Falun Gong and the Future of China

Falun Gong and the Future of China - Kimberly Zhang Falun...

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Kimberly Zhang Falun Gong and the Future of China Narratives of Falun Gong 1. Need to fill a post-Mao spiritual vacuum a. Could group Falun Gong together with other actors in religious revival which has marked post-Mao China: Christians, Daoists, practitioners of wide variety of popular religions have all responded to more liberal atmosphere of the reform era regime 2. Emergence of a Chinese civil society a. Choose context of dissenting or contesting groups and movements within China, linking Falun Gong to rioting peasants and disgruntled workers, to rising dissatisfaction with cadre corruption and abuse of political power, perhaps even to the student demonstrations of 1989 b. From this perspective, Falun Gong might be read as part of popular response to looser social atmosphere of the reform era 3. China’s timeless dynastic cycle a. Group Falung Gong together with the Taipins, the late Yuan period White Lotus rebels, the Han period Yellow Turbans, and other popular religious groups that rose up over the centuries to put an end to faltering dynasties and write Falun Gong (and the reform era Chinese government) into timeless story of China’s dynastic cycle 4. Universal fight for human rights a. Falun Gong practitioners foreground issues of freedom of religion and freedom of speech, placing themselves in context of universal fight for human rights (with references in Falun Gong literature to MLK Jr., Mahatma Gandhi) born in the discourse of the Enlightenment, and telling the story of their fight against Chinese authorities as a morality play 5. International cult movement a. Chinese authorities linked group to “international cult movement” and to China’s own internal history of religiously inspired peasant rebellion b. Story they tell is one of ignorance, superstition, violence, chaos c. Argue that cults deliberately deceive the people Chinese Popular Religion
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1. Ownby’s preference for understanding Falun Gong a. Viewing Falun Gong as anything other than a religious movement, concerned with
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Falun Gong and the Future of China - Kimberly Zhang Falun...

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