Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

This dissertation investigates how religious healing knowledge has been defined and used by scholars, physicians, and New Agers and how religious healing knowledge emerged as a legitimate area of knowledge in Taiwan. The key position of religious healing knowledge within the entanglement between religion and spirituality is also examined. After the martial law was lifted in 1987, Taiwan’s society had rapidly diversified, and its religions were at the transition point between the old and the new. Meanwhile, the new spirituality culture was introduced into Taiwan in the 1980s and got popular in the 1990s, and it inherited the trend of religious individuality and the orientation of syncretism. Results in this dissertation showed that the concept of “spirituality” had its particularity in the context of Taiwan. Although there was a continuity between religion and spirituality, the concept of “spirituality” was not stabilized in Taiwan, giving actors like scholars, physicians, and New Agers an operating space to do knowledge production and connect differentiated knowledges. They regarded religious healing knowledge as a resource for knowledge translation, which made its legitimacy had gradually emerged. The scholars’ interest was to indigenize academic knowledge, and they mobilized religious healing knowledge to connect foreign and local knowledge; the conceptual distinction between disease and illness was important to them. The physicians’ interest was to find other healing methods to supplement the deficiencies of Western medicine, and they mobilized religious healing knowledge to connect CAM and Western medicine; the conceptual distinction between cure and healing was important to them. New Agers’ interest was to seek spirituality that is different from traditional religions, and they mobilized religious healing knowledge to construct a flexible, hybrid cosmology in order to connect foreign and local healing knowledge; the conceptual distinction between religion and spirituality was important to them. The three concepts of illness, healing, and spirituality were more flexible than concepts of disease, cure, and religion. They provided these actors a space for operation in their knowledge production. The legitimacy of religious healing knowledge was brought out through their knowledge production.

Committee Chair

Schafer, Mark J.

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