Accepted Paper:

Attachment and detachment between the woman and the fetus: observing abortion ritual in Taiwan  


Grace Cheng-Ying Lin (John Abbott College)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how the body of the woman is defined and treated in the context of abortion ritual in Taiwan nowadays. The body is regarded as a "fetus carrier". Nonetheless, the active participation of the woman during the ritual process allows her to interact with life spheres over time.

Paper long abstract:

This paper aims to demonstrate how the body of the woman is defined and treated as a "fetus carrier" in Chinese religious context through the lense of abortion ritual in Taiwan. The abortion ritual is newly popularized, and widely practiced in Taiwan today, which attempts to appease the aborted fetus spirit, called Yingling 婴灵. The emergence of abortion ritual has changed the post-abortion routine of women. By means of ethnographical studies this paper observes how the the body of the woman is transformed into an arena where familial and societal conflicts and compromises take place. The attachment and the detachment between the body of the woman and the yingling construct a shifting identity of the woman, as well as their relationships with their life spheres. Meanwhile, this paper hightlights, through her agency and bodily experiences during the ritual, the woman is able to interacted with these changes over time. Ritual has become the key field for the negotiation of the forces of modernization -- including the liberation of the body, economy and society - as Taiwan has formed its own vernacular modernity within globalization.

Panel P059
Anthropology through the experience of the physical body