American Daoist Cultivation

Submitted by James Miller on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 12:53
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American Daoist Cultivation is a website designed to facilitate learning about the transformation of Daoism in contemporary North America. The website consists of twelve brief video interviews with prominent American Daoist practitioners. These interviews have been arranged into four sections based around four common themes: healing, the body, cultivation and transcendence. Each section has its own introduction and each interview is accompanied by its own commentary.

The transmission and cultural adaptation of Daoism in contemporary North America is complex and controversial. The practitioners interviewed in this website are representative of one aspect of this cultural phenomenon, an aspect rooted in the popularization of Qi cultivation exercises in 20th century China and which have now been transmitted across the world. It is through the lens of these cultivation practices, not philosophical or priestly religion, that American Daoist cultivation is being construed and represented.

The central questions that this website raises are:

  • In what ways can these practitioners be considered representatives of Daoist traditions?
  • How, in fact, do these practitioners represent Daoism in contemporary North America?
  • From where do these practitioners derive their authority?
    What is American Daoist Cultivation?

Useful essays by Louis Komjathy, Russell Kirkland and Elijah Siegler concerning these issues of representation, authority, tradition and authenticity can be found in the bibliography.