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Guest Lecture: “The god of wealth in Chinese ritual mythology and Mongolian conspiracy theories”
April 22, 2021 - 11:00-13:00
Date: Thursday, 22 April 2021
Time: 11.00-13.00 CET
In this guest lecture I look at the case of the reinterpretation of the Chinese rituals of veneration to the ‘god of wealth’ (財神) in contemporary Mongolian culture. I shall introduce the figure(s) of the god of wealth, and its specific features and functions in the ritual mythology and everyday practices of Chinese communities. I shall also regard these features in the broader context of Chinese and Mongolian folk beliefs about the forms of the wealth and the supernatural ways it manifests. A comparative perspective on these beliefs will give some hints as to the mystery of the demonization of such a generally cheerful deity as the Chinese God of wealth in the perceptions of neighbouring ethnic groups. Special attention will be paid in the report to the concept of the ‘evil wealth’, which is applied to indicate social distrust in various situations of life in contemporary Mongolian communities. Very often this concept takes on an ethnic identity and becomes enmeshed with diverse aspects of the ‘Chinese question’. This topic reflects old, and new, transnational concerns and often included by the increasingly popular and influential genre of conspiracy theories. Finally, I shall discuss examples of such conspiracy theories and their historical and current contexts.
Alevtina Solovyeva obtained her PhD in Asian Literatures and Folkloristics (Russian Academy of Sciences; University of Tartu). Currently she is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Cultural Research, University of Tartu; Research Fellow at the Centre of Typological and Semiotic Folklore Studies; and a Leading Researcher at the Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russia, Moscow). Previously, she studied Orient Studies (Sinology and Mongolian studies) and Folkloristics in Russian State University for the Humanities (Russia), National University of Mongolia (Mongolia), University of Bonn (Germany), University of Bern (Switzerland) and University of Tartu (Estonia). From 2007 till today she has been conducting a number of projects based on fieldwork research in various parts of Mongolia and China, investigating traditional and contemporary cultures, folklores, religious traditions, and intercommunal relations, among the others.
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