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Goddess across the Taiwan Strait: Matrifocal Ritual Space, Nation-State, and Satellite Television Footprints


This essay examines complex interactions among the nation-state, popular religion, media capitalism, and gendered territorialization as these are inflected across the Taiwan Strait. Relations across the strait have been fraught with political tension and military preparations over the question of whether taiwan is part of China or an independent state. Since the 1999 presidential elections in Taiwan, the new government there has been more vociferous about Taiwan independence, and mainland China's Communist Party has responded with more vigorous claims on Taiwan, including the launching of a warning missile over the island. Under these conditions, it is all the more remarkable that in recent years there has been an increasing number of religious pilgrimages and exchanges across the strait, and that, in 2000, one such pilgrimage by Taiwanese worshippers of the maritime goddess Mazu to her natal home in Fujian Province was broadcast live from China back to Taiwan via satellite television.

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