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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

The Changing Moral Economy of Ancestor Worship in a Chinese Emigrant District

Author: Eng, Kuah Khun
Author Background:
Date March 1999
Type Journal
Journal Title: Culture,-Medicine-and-Psychiatry
Volume/Pages 23(1) 99-132
Subject Matter Community Development; International; China
Abstract Drawing on qualitative data obtained via fieldwork & results of a questionnaire survey administered to villagers & official cadres (Ns not specified), the reciprocal influences between Anxi County Fujianese, whose families & clans have migrated to Singapore, & their ancestral villages in Fujian, People's Republic of China, are described. The Singaporeans bring wealth & cultural capital to their poor relations in rural China, & their participation is crucial for local socioeconomic development. Besides bringing material support & globalizing values & lifestyles, they also reinvigorate & transform the local religious tradition, which, in turn, reaffirms & even remakes their own ethnic & regional identity. The complex outcome illustrates the fact that China's social change under economic reforms & global influence is, in its huge rural core, not merely a matter of infrastructural, market, & social welfare improvements, but involves exchange & transformation in meanings of rituals & experiences. Kinship & religion are not unchanging aspects of the cultural tradition, separate from programs of modernity; rather, modernity & tradition appear to be inseparable, & they may reveal that the recipe for effective community projects requires a vital tie between cultural, social, & interpersonal processes. 1 Appendix, 60 References. Adapted from the source document