Respecting silence: longing, rhythm, and Chinese temples in an age of bulldozers
Weller, Robert P.
MetadataShow full item record
Citation (published version)Robert P Weller. "Respecting silence: Longing, rhythm, and Chinese temples in an age of bulldozers." History and Anthropology, pp. 1 - 17. https://doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2020.1777112
This essay distinguishes the silence that makes rhythm (and thus ritual) possible, and the silence of loss and longing. It argues that both, as they intertwine, are crucial parts of the adjustment to traumatic change. The interaction between these two kinds of silence offers an alternative to theories that focus primarily on speaking as a way of overcoming trauma, or on silence as antisocial. The ethnographic evidence comes from a surgical case that illustrates the basic approach, followed by a case of rapid urbanization on the outskirts of a large Chinese city, involving the resettlement of 100,000 people. Both cases show the two kinds of silence as they resonate with each other. The analysis argues that silence is not just the absence of sound, but a necessary part of all the rhythms of life, not replaced but invoked by speech.