1st Edition

Ancestor Worship in the Diaspora Chinese and China Universes The Making of a Collaborative Cultural Basin

By Khun Eng Kuah Copyright 2024
    256 Pages 83 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Kuah explores the centrality of ancestors and ancestor worship of the Chinese in the Diaspora Chinese and China universes. Building on the original work and book on “Rebuilding the Ancestral Village: Singaporeans in China”, this book goes beyond the premise of remaking the ancestral home.

    Ancestor worship and the ancestors, together with selected cultural practices, constitute an important aspect of the broad Chinese culture shared by these two groups of Chinese and leads to the making of a collaborative cultural basin. This book takes the audience on an ancestor worship journey to uncover the complexity of ancestors and ancestral souls crossing transnational spaces, their choices of ancestral soul homes, the significance of the lineage ancestral house and the engagement of women through food offering contesting patriarchy. It also explores the increasing role of the Mainland Chinese state in appropriating ancestor and ancestor worship as a cultural icon and during the Qingming festival as a socio-moral capital and cultural bridge to foster closer ties with the Diaspora Chinese in its attempt to bring them into its “Chinese civilizational polity”. The book also takes the audience on a photographic journey to visually experience the various rituals and the vibrancy of the ritual performances conducted during the different stage from pre-communal to communal ancestor worship.

    An essential read for scholars of Chinese society and religion, Chinese migration and diaspora studies.

    Table of Contents





    Photos Captions


    Chapter 1:       Introduction: Ancestor Worship in the Diaspora and Mainland Chinese Universes


    Chapter 2:       Why Ancestors Matter?


    Chapter 3:       Ancestors across Transnational Spaces: From Luodi Shenggen to Yeluo Guigen


    Chapter 4:       Ancestor’s Soul Homes


    Chapter 5:       Lineage Ancestral House and Its Symbolism


    Chapter 6:       Chinese Women and Ancestral Food Offerings


    Chapter 7:       Ritual Performance of Ancestor Worship: A Photographic Journey 


    Chapter 8:       Ancestors’ Worth in Contemporary China: Economic Capital and Cultural Heritage


    Chapter 9:       Qingming Festival as a National Cultural Icon: The Reach of the Mainland Chinese State


    Chapter 10:     Conclusion: Future of Ancestor Worship and the Making of a Collaborative Cultural Basin








    Khun Eng Kuah is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Chinese Diaspora Studies at the School of International Studies and Academy of Overseas Chinese Studies in Jinan University (Guangzhou, China) and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Chinese Studies in National University of Singapore. Her primary research areas are Diaspora Chinese - China Relations; and Religion, politics and society, Reformist Buddhism and Buddhist compassion in East and Southeast and Asia.