Cult, Culture, and Authority: Princess Lieu Hanh in Vietnamese History

Paperback: $28.00
ISBN-13: 9780824898663
Published: May 2024
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272 pages
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  • About the Book
  • Princess Liễu Hạnh, often called the Mother of the Vietnamese people by her followers, is one of the most prominent goddesses in Vietnamese popular religion. First emerging some four centuries ago as a local sect appealing to women, the princess’s cult has since transcended its geographical and gender boundaries and remains vibrant today. Who was this revered deity? Was she a virtuous woman or a prostitute? Why did people begin worshiping her and why have they continued? Cult, Culture, and Authority traces Liễu Hạnh’s cult from its ostensible appearance in the sixteenth century to its present-day prominence in North Vietnam and considers it from a broad range of perspectives, as religion and literature and in the context of politics and society.

    Over time, Liễu Hạnh’s personality and cult became the subject of numerous literary accounts, and these historical texts are a major source for this book. Author Olga Dror explores the authorship and historical context of each text considered, treating her subject in an interdisciplinary way. Her interest lies in how these accounts reflect the various political agendas of successive generations of intellectuals and officials. The same cult was called into service for a variety of ideological ends: feminism, nationalism, Buddhism, or Daoism.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Olga Dror, Author

      Olga Dror is professor in the Department of History at Texas A & M University.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • This work is a major contribution to our understanding of life, religion, and culture in early modern and modern Vietnam. The author’s expertise in the texts that she considers is quite special and reflects the increasing sophistication in the discovery and use of indigenous sources by a new generation of scholars. The book is strongly recommended for those interested in Vietnam, its culture and religion, its literature, and its history.
      —John Whitmore, University of Michigan
    • A unique and brilliant case study of a Vietnamese religious cult that traces its history, and the multiple significances with which Vietnamese society invested it, from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Painstaking but far from dull, this extraordinary book will be a must read for anthropologists, historians, and any other scholars interested in religion and culture.
      —Alexander Woodside, University of British Columbia
    • Dror's work is a model of careful scholarship, sound reasoning, and clear exposition. Particularly compelling is its ability to link broader issues in Vietnamese society to the types of texts that authors produced.
      —American Historical Review