In this original and readable book, Charles Stafford describes the Chinese fascination with separation and reunion. Drawing on his field studies in Taiwan and mainland China, he gives a vivid account of raucous festivals of reunion, elaborate rituals for the sending-off of gods (and daughters), poetic moments of leave-takings between friends, and bitter political rhetoric about Chinese national unity. The idioms and practices of separation and reunion - which are woven into the fabric of daily life - help people to explain the passions aroused by the possibility of national division. In this book, the discussion of everyday rituals leads into a unique and accessible general introduction to Chinese and Taiwanese society and culture.
'The intimate vignettes of family life and relations, the vivid portrayal of the often very unfamiliar ways in which intimacy and affection are expressed, are telling, often delightful or affecting - and alas uncommon in Chinese ethnography today. This is a work I shall gladly use to introduce my undergraduates to contemporary China in a way that will capture their attention without simplifying its complexity.' Francesca Bray University of California, Santa Barbara