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Gods, Ghosts, and GangstersRitual Violence, Martial Arts, and Masculinity on the Margins of Chinese Society$
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Avron Boretz

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833770

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833770.001.0001

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Violence, Honor, and Manhood

Violence, Honor, and Manhood

(p.21) chapter 2 Violence, Honor, and Manhood
Gods, Ghosts, and Gangsters

Avron Boretz

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter begins with a hypothetical encounter, a simple act of obeisance in a typical temple of popular religion. That the martial is so palpably present in even the simplest everyday rituals underscores its central place in Chinese cultural logic. It then discusses some of the main historical and literary prototypes that devotees and scholars alike generally associate with the symbolic field of the martial, and examines the ways in which violence, aggressivity, physical prowess, and bodily disciplines (including the traditional martial arts) have come to be associated with a set of social roles, moral qualities, and modes of self-presentation that are, in turn, identified as defining attributes of a specifically non-elite form of Chinese masculinity. Finally, it turns to the main theme of this book, posited first as a question: What is actually happening in the act of martial ritual performance? The answer, in brief, is that it is a dialectical process of cultural production predicated on shared aesthetic and empathic conventions that articulates and affirms a shared ontology of experience and joins scripted, collective expectations to the creative agency and personal desires of individual actors.

Keywords:   Chinese martial arts, martial ritual performance, popular religion, cultural logic, social roles, self-representation, masculinity, cultural production

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