Date of Award

8-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Major Professor

Dr. Miriam Levering

Committee Members

Dr. Mark Hulsether, Dr. Rachelle Scott

Abstract

This thesis explores the phenomenon of American Daoism. It assumes that American Daoism is a New Religious Movement, and argues that it has roots in counterhegemonic religious movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I will explore these roots and describe how they are counter-hegemonic. Furthermore, I will build upon Elijiah Siegler’s doctoral dissertation, “The Dao of America: The History and Practice of American Daoism,” by using post-modern theories of identity to discuss how American Daoist identity is formed. This thesis argues that American Daoist identity is a combination of Chinese and American cultural objects that form a hybrid religious identity.

American Daoism has largely been influenced by globalization and consumer culture. I will argue that there is some degree of commodification in American Daoism. The process of commodification is not negative, rather it facilitates American Daoism’s spread into new markets. I also discuss the negative aspects of commodification in relation to Daoism, and the problems encountered when differentiating between the two.

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