The Divine Eye and the Diaspora addresses the connection between colonial era syncretism and postcolonial diaspora. Caodaism was described by the French as a syncrétisme à l’outrance, an excessive, even transgressive mixture of different elements that was outrageous in its audacious combinations. My analysis picks apart the conceptual framework for these claims, looking at how Caodaism, as an explicit form of syncretism, restructures the religious field (using Bourdieu’s term). Caodaism was perceived as trespassing by crossing the border into other religions, as well as crossing the border between religion and politics. The form of syncretism developed by colonized intellectuals was idiosyncratic: I profile five different religious leaders from the founding generation, and look at their legacy through the lives of five disciples in 21st century California.
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