We proudly present our first ‚E-Paper‘ including references to Video and Audio resources: “Staging the Spirits: Lên Đồng – Cult – Culture – Spectacle. Performative Contexts of a Vietnamese Ritual from Controlled Possession to Staged Performance” by Prof. Andrea Lauser.
Vietnamese mediumship known as lên đồng, a central ritual practice in the context of the so-called Religion of the Mother Goddesses (Ðạo Mẫu, also referred to as “the way of the four palaces”, Đạo Tứ Phử), can be described as a vital religious practice which has proved its resilience and adaptability throughout its history despite persistent criticism in the name of modernity and progress. In this paper I trace the dynamics of the transformation of this practice from a forbidden possession ritual at the centre of the Four Palace Cult (Đạo Tứ Phử) to its toleration and appreciation as an expression of “authentic” Vietnamese culture and collective national identity. I outline this path from national shame to national fame through different stages and ‘spaces of articulation’, such as folklorization, the experimental art spectacle, and heritagization and theatricalization as propaganda spectacle. The question of whether mediumship is accepted as a religious ritual, or even as a religion at all, is of political significance and relevance in a country like Vietnam, where the state judges the legitimacy of religion.