China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Digital Herbs: The Intersections of Daoism and Yangsheng in Contemporary China

Friday, March 23
12:45 PM - 2:45 PM
Location: Park Tower 8216, Lobby Level

Yangsheng is the idea that a person can nourish and prolong his or her life by incorporating a wide range of physiological, psychological, and behavioral practices, especially diets, breathing methods, and ingestion of medicines. Many of these practices first appeared in ancient and medieval China, and in the past couple of decades have undergone a renaissance. For many of the persons in contemporary China who identify with Daoist beliefs, yangsheng practices are among the most visible and conspicuous. This paper analyzes the recent developments of yangsheng by studying posts on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. The paper studies how both religious leaders and lay practitioners assert how Daoist ritual and these "health" practices overlap and intersect. For many people, the ingestion of herbs and visualization practices once performed in temples now serve as the basis for new regimen to be used at home. This paper identifies common themes in social media posts and develops a methodology to automate the analysis of key yangsheng trends throughout China in recent years.

Jonathan E. E. Pettit

University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Hawaii

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3 - Digital Herbs: The Intersections of Daoism and Yangsheng in Contemporary China



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