Falun Gong and the Future of China

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Apr 16, 2008 - Religion - 312 pages
On April 25, 1999, ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners gathered outside Zhongnanhai, the guarded compound where China's highest leaders live and work, in a day-long peaceful protest of police brutality against fellow practitioners in the neighboring city of Tianjin. Stunned and surprised, China's leaders launched a campaign of brutal suppression against the group which continues to this day. This book, written by a leading scholar of the history of this Chinese popular religion, is the first to offer a full explanation of what Falun Gong is and where it came from, placing the group in the broader context of the modern history of Chinese religion as well as the particular context of post-Mao China. Falun Gong began as a form of qigong, a general name describing physical and mental disciplines based loosely on traditional Chinese medical and spiritual practices. Qigong was "invented" in the 1950s by members of the Chinese medical establishment who were worried that China's traditional healing arts would be lost as China modeled its new socialist health care system on Western biomedicine. In the late 1970s, Chinese scientists "discovered" that qi possessed genuine scientific qualities, which allowed qigong to become part of China's drive for modernization. With the support of China's leadership, qigong became hugely popular in the 1980s and 1990s, as charismatic qigongqigong boom, the first genuine mass movement in the history of the People's Republic. Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi started his own school of qigong in 1992, claiming that the larger movement had become corrupted by money and magic tricks. Li was welcomed into the qigong world and quickly built a nationwide following of several million practitioners, but ran afoul of China's authorities and relocated to the United States in 1995. In his absence, followers in China began to organize peaceful protests of perceived media slights of Falun Gong, which increased from the mid-'90s onward as China's leaders began to realize that they had created, in the qigong boom, a mass movement with religious and nationalistic undertones, a potential threat to their legitimacy and control. Based on fieldwork among Chinese Falun Gong practitioners in North America and on close examinations of Li Hongzhi's writings, this volume offers an inside look at the movement's history in Chinese popular religion.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - xuebi - LibraryThing

David Ownby writes a comprehensive and scholarly history of Falun Gong (法輪功 also known as Falun Dafa 法輪大法) - one of the most controversial new religious movements to arise in China in the last ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Extremely disappointing. There is too much poor research in this book, whether intentional or not. I am very interested in this subject and agree with the other reviewer - the books Bloody Harvest and State Organs are rational, and well researched. If one wants to cover a modern historical topic, one needs to be diligent in uncovering the situation. 

Contents

Qigong Falun Gong and the Crisis of the PostMao State
3
2 A History for Falun Gong
23
3 The Creation and Evolution of Qigong
45
4 The Life and Times of Li Hongzhi in China 19521995
79
Fieldwork among Diaspora Practitioners
125
The Conflict between Falun Gong and the Chinese State
161
Unpacking Contexts
229
Chinese Emigration to North America 19512002
237
Falun Dafa Practitioners Questionnaire
241
Notes
247
Bibliography
271
Index
285
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About the author (2008)

David Ownby is Professor of History and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the Université de Montréal, in Montreal, Canada. He is the author of Brotherhoods and Secret Societies in Early and Mid-Qing China: The Formation of a Tradition, and the co-author, with Qin Baoqi and Susan J. Palmer, of The Millennium and the Turning of the Kalpa: The Historical Evolution of Apocalyptic Discourse in China and in the West.

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