War and shadows : the haunting of Vietnam by Mai Lan Gustafsson

By Mai Lan Gustafsson

Vietnamese tradition and non secular traditions position the maximum value on death good: in previous age, physique unblemished, with surviving young children, and correctly buried and mourned. greater than 5 million humans have been killed within the Vietnam warfare, lots of them younger, a lot of them demise faraway from domestic. one other 300,000 are nonetheless lacking. Having died badly, they're idea to became indignant ghosts, doomed to spend eternity in one of those spirit hell. a long time after the conflict ended, many survivors think that the spirits of these useless and lacking have lower back to hang-out their enjoyed ones.

In War and Shadows, the anthropologist Mai Lan Gustafsson tells the tale of the anger of those spirits and the torments in their family. Gustafsson's wealthy ethnographic learn permits her to carry readers into the realm of spirit ownership, concentrating on the resource of the discomfort, the actual and psychological soreness the spirits convey, and numerous makes an attempt to ameliorate their anger via ritual choices and the intervention of mediums. via a chain of non-public lifestyles histories, she chronicles the diversity of illnesses led to through the spirits' wrath, from complications and aching limbs (often a similar limb misplaced via a friend in conflict) to self-mutilation.

In Gustafsson's view, the Communist suppression of spirit-based faith after the autumn of Saigon has intensified anxieties in regards to the wellbeing and fitness of the spirit global. whereas shrines and mourning are nonetheless allowed, spirit mediums have been outlawed and pushed underground, in addition to the various different practices that may have supplied a few convenience. regardless of those regulations, she unearths, sufferers of those hauntings do up to attainable to attempt to put their ghosts to rest.

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Additional resources for War and shadows : the haunting of Vietnam

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S. trade embargo was still in place. In Vietnam there was a deep suspicion of foreigners and the Vietnamese who had contact with them. Communist Vietnam is not the monster that unthinking believers in some Red Menace think it is, but dissidents are jailed and there is a history of reeducation and persecution of people considered to be enemies of the state. 19 It was this threat that motivated me to take steps to protect myself and my informants from suspicion. 23 The possibility of police detention convinced me to give my tape recorder away early on, and though I kept my camera, my picture taking was limited to the tourist variety.

It was caused by his dead mother, he explained to me. She was trying to force him back in line. After Tien ended the relationship with his girlfriend, his physical problems went away. His mother was satisfied. Nguyen Thi Thuy’s case provides the fi nal example of this type of spirit possession illness. A twentysomething single woman, Ms. Thuy lived in Hanoi and worked as a clerk in a department store. She’d moved to the capital four years earlier from a province about seventy miles west of the city.

Next to the table was Thuy’s “school desk,” upon which sat an ancient and enormous computer, stacks of English lesson books, a tape player, and various music and language tapes. There was a poster of a famous Vietnamese singer on the wall above her bed, featuring the burly young man in an unbuttoned shirt paddling a raft. ” In the spring of 1997, after the Tet season had come and gone,40 Thuy was forced to miss several days of work and class. Whenever she was not moving, she would experience the sensation of paralysis and near suffocation.

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