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Handbook of Religion and the Asian CityAspiration and Urbanization in the Twenty-First Century$
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Peter van der Veer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520281226

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520281226.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

Can Commodities be Sacred?

Can Commodities be Sacred?

Material Religion in Seoul and Hanoi

(p.367) 20 Can Commodities be Sacred?
Handbook of Religion and the Asian City

Laurel Kendall

University of California Press

This chapter examines material religion in Seoul and Hanoi by focusing on the production and circulation of sacred goods and services in the two Asian cities. In particular, it considers how notions of sacredness, magic, and efficacy are expressed and experienced in these settings through two similar but not identical domains of popular religious practice: those of spirit mediums in Hanoi and of shamans in Seoul. After a brief overview of place, the chapter considers how spirit mediums and shamans are situated within urban space and how these popular religious practices foster the production and consumption of different kinds of religious goods and services. It then explores how changes in production and distribution have been experienced and interpreted in Seoul and Hanoi by looking at the provision of services at ritual sites and the production and consumption of sacred images. It shows how the city becomes a hub of popular religious activity that is aided and abetted by brisk markets in ritual goods, and the ways in which these markets are marked by the commodification of goods and services.

Keywords:   material religion, Seoul, Hanoi, sacred goods, sacredness, spirit mediums, shamans, urban space, religious goods, commodification

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