Workshop | Transforming Communities of ‘Spirits’ and ‘Souls’: The Term Ling in Religious, Medical and Secular Literatures in Premodern and Modern China (and East Asia)
Organised by Christian Meyer, Research Area 3: "Future Perfect".
The semantics of “ling 靈” (normally translated as soul, spirit, spirituality, efficacy etc.) have connected otherwise unrelated communities in China and East Asia. In premodern China, the term Ling 靈 denoted the deceased soul during a death ritual, symbolizing for the ritual community of descendants the transformation of the deceased into an ancestor. However, ling could also pertain to the supernormal power that goes beyond normal human life and so was integrated into the semantics of Daoist traditions and local practice. Not at least it became part of the medical language used by communities of healers and medical practitioners. However, it also entered the fields of religious and secular literatures.
The conference brings together scholars of different fields to explore how changing uses of ling and interactions between religious and secular literary fields helped to reshape imagined transtemporal ‘communities of souls and spirits’ in Chinese discursive contexts.