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Mu Peng

Mu Peng

Ph.D. Candidate

Graduate Program in Folklore & Folklife
University of Pennsylvania
3619 Locust Walk, Fourth Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19104
phone: 215-898-7467
fax: 215-573-2231



University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. Candidate in Folklore

M.A. Thesis in Folklore & Folklife, University of Pennsylvania, 2004
"The Doctor's Body: Embodiment and Multiplicity of Chinese Medical Knowledge"

M.A. Thesis in Folklore, Peking University, Beijing, P. R. China, 1997
“On the Cultural Interpretation of Mouse Embodied in Spring Festival Customs (Shilun xinnian xisu zhong de shu de guannian)”

B.A. in Chinese Literature, Fudan University, Shanghai, P. R. China, 1993

Proposed Dissertation Title

"Shared Practice, Esoteric Knowledge, and Bai: Envisioning the Yin World in Rural China"

Abstract: What is the Chinese sense of religion? Without Church and institutional propagation, how are religious beliefs and practices formed and reproduced in individual and rural communities? Based upon fieldwork in Chaling county, Hunan, China, my dissertation explores practices and agents that influence and shape the ways with which rural people envisage and experience the yin world, the Chinese supernatural realm. My dissertation centers on practices through which religious beliefs are constantly constructed and transmitted, and contextualizes the ways of doing popular religion on the ground. I argue that recurrent religious actions cultivate the acting body and mind as a whole to experience the yin world; with this instillation, beliefs and ways of practice not only are reproduced but become deeply embodied habitus.

Research Interests

Chinese popular religion, Folk medicine, Orality and literacy, Bodylore, Material culture

Membership/Professional Affiliations

American Folklore Society
Chinese Folklore Society
Chinese Folk Literature Society

Selected Publications

In English:

"Imitating Masters: Apprenticeship and Embodied Knowledge in Rural China" in Devorah Kalekin-Fishman and Kelvin E. Y. Low, eds. Asian Experiences of Everyday Life: the Senses in Culture and Society, forthcoming.

Book Review: Up in Flames: the Ephemeral Art of Pasted-Paper Sculpture in Taiwan, Ellen Johnston Laing and Helen Hui-ling Liu, Stanford University Press, 2004, in Museum Anthropology, Vol. 31, No. 1. 2008.

"The Doctor’s Body: Embodiment and Multiplicity of Chinese Medical Knowledge," East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine, no. 25, pp. 27-46, 2006.

In Chinese:

"Visual Art as performance: Auspicious Emblems in Chinese Folk Arts" (Zuowei biaoyan de shijue yishu: zhongguo minjian meishu zhong de jixiang tu’an), Lu Wei and An Deming ed. Proceedings of the Diversity of Folk Narrative: Annual Meeting of Forum of Folk Culture Studies (Minjian xushi de duoyang xing), pp.109-128, Beijing: Xueyuan chuban she, 2006.

"Practice, the Politics of Culture, and Performance Theory in American Folklore" (Shijian, wenhua zhengzhixue yu meiguo minsu xue de biaoyan lilun), Forum of Folk Culture (Minjian wenhua luntan), no. 5, pp. 90-97, 2005.

Conference Presentations

"'It is as Thin as a Sheet of Paper between the Yin and Yang': Materializing the Yin World" at Homelands and Diasporas: Annual Meeting of American Folklore Society, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Oct., 2006.

"Memory and Imagination: the Chinese Domestic Altar" at Folklore and Landscape: Annual Meeting of American Folklore Society, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct., 2004.

"Visual Art as Performance: Auspicious Emblems in Chinese Folk Arts" at The Diversity of Folk Narrative: Annual Meeting of Forum of Folk Culture Studies, Beijing, China, Aug., 2004.

"Xuanjuan: A Transitional Genre Between Orality and Literacy" at Bound, Unbound: Textuality Within and Beyond the Book, the Third Annual Graduate Humanities Forum Conference at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Apr., 2003.

"Matsumura Takeo and China" at the Annual Meeting of Chinese Folk Literature Society, Beijing, China, 2000.

"On Changes of the Transformation of Folklore" (Lun minsu chuancheng fangshi de zhuanbian) at the Annual Meeting of Chinese Folklore Society, Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, China, 1999.


Forum of Folk Culture Studies (in Chinese)
Oral Tradition and Intangible Heritage (in Chinese)

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