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By David Ownby

On April 25, 1999, 10000 Falun Gong practitioners accrued outdoors Zhongnanhai, the guarded compound the place China's optimum leaders stay and paintings, in a day-long peaceable protest of police brutality opposed to fellow practitioners within the neighboring urban of Tianjin. surprised and shocked, China's leaders introduced a crusade of brutal suppression opposed to the gang which keeps to this present day. This e-book, written by way of a number one student of the background of this chinese language well known faith, is the 1st to supply a whole rationalization of what Falun Gong is and the place it got here from, putting the gang within the broader context of the fashionable background of chinese language faith in addition to the actual context of post-Mao China. Falun Gong started as a kind of qigong, a normal identify describing actual and psychological disciplines dependent loosely on conventional chinese language clinical and religious practices. Qigong was once "invented" within the Fifties via contributors of the chinese language clinical institution who have been nervous that China's conventional therapeutic arts will be misplaced as China modeled its new socialist well-being care procedure on Western biomedicine. within the overdue Seventies, chinese language scientists "discovered" that qi possessed real clinical traits, which allowed qigong to turn into a part of China's force for modernization. With the aid of China's management, qigong grew to become highly renowned within the Eighties and Nineties, as charismatic qigong> masters attracted thousands of enthusiastic practitioners in what used to be often called the qigong increase, the 1st real mass circulate within the background of the People's Republic. Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi begun his personal tuition of qigong in 1992, claiming that the bigger move had turn into corrupted by way of cash and magic methods. Li was once welcomed into the qigong international and speedy outfitted a national following of a number of million practitioners, yet ran afoul of China's experts and relocated to the USA in 1995. In his absence, fans in China started to set up peaceable protests of perceived media slights of Falun Gong, which elevated from the mid-'90s onward as China's leaders started to discover they had created, within the qigong increase, a mass move with spiritual and nationalistic undertones, a possible danger to their legitimacy and keep watch over. in keeping with fieldwork between chinese language Falun Gong practitioners in North the United States and on shut examinations of Li Hongzhi's writings, this quantity deals an within examine the movement's historical past in chinese language well known faith.

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He also shows, in part through case studies of particular schools of qigong but also through a close reading of the long-running debate between qigong proponents and qigong detractors, how the ideologies of qigong masters and of the state came to part company. Palmer thus provides a historical study of qigong origins in the early 1950s, a narrative construction of its rise and fall through the late twentieth century, and a sociopolitical analysis of the significance of the qigong boom in the context not only of reform era China, but of China since 1949.

Sifting through thousands of pages of journalistic, biographical, autobiographical, and political accounts of the rise and fall of qigong, Palmer deftly illustrates how the utopian yearnings of the elites and the masses came together in the 1980s under the nationalistic banner of scientism to produce the unprecedented mass movement, for it was the belief that qi possessed material existence which convinced China’s leaders to give the green light to introduction 19 qigong. He also shows, in part through case studies of particular schools of qigong but also through a close reading of the long-running debate between qigong proponents and qigong detractors, how the ideologies of qigong masters and of the state came to part company.

23 For the purposes of this volume, Hsu reminds us that not all qigong masters were qigong superstars. 25 As the title of her book—Breathing Spaces— suggests, Chen sees qigong as a resource that allows the much put-upon urban Chinese to assert a kind of independence, perhaps even a transcendence, in the face of the indignities of life in much of reform era China. 26 These studies are excellent, as far as they go, but at the same time they tell us little about the origins—ancient or contemporary—of qigong, nor about the particular contexts which gave rise to and shaped the evolution of the qigong movement.

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