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The Flowing Materiality of Crystal: A Global Commodity Chain of Fengshui Objects From Brazil, China to Taiwan

SUNG, SHIH-HSIANG (2014) The Flowing Materiality of Crystal: A Global Commodity Chain of Fengshui Objects From Brazil, China to Taiwan. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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After the 1990s, one type of fengshui object became extremely popular in Taiwan: crystals. A diversity of crystal products, including crystal points, crystal balls, and amethyst geodes, became hot commodities and earned their fengshui meanings. However, these fengshui objects did not exist in Taiwan before the 1990s, and they are all from Latin America, Africa, India or other foreign sources.
Inspired by Appadurai’s “the social life of things” (1986) and Kopytoff’s “the biography of things (1986)”. This thesis will reveal the cultural and historical meaning of the Taiwanese crystal fengshui objects embedded in a network of global commodity chains. First, the decline of Taiwan’s jewelry processing industry led the businessmen to turn to invest in China and search for potentially beneficial minerals from the globe. For example, the buyers purchased crystal materials in Brazil, processed them in China, and sold them in Taiwan. At the same time, this global commodity chain turned Taiwan’s role from jewelry processing factories to jewelry consumption. Second, it indicates the modernization of Taiwan’s society. Modern scientific education has drawn scientific conceptions into Taiwanese folk cosmology. This challenges the traditional concept of qi and force Taiwanese fengshui consultants to reinterpret the core concept of their professional knowledge and absorb crystals into their materials.
In summary, the crystal fengshui commodities not only indicate globalization’s impacts on Taiwanese folk beliefs, they also embody the adapting process of “glocalization”.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
SUNG, SHIH-HSIANGshs95@pitt.eduSHS95
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSTRATHERN, ANDREW J.strather@pitt.eduSTRATHER
Committee MemberALTER, JOSEPH S.jsalter@pitt.eduJSALTER
Committee MemberCHILSON, CLARKchilson@pitt.eduCHILSON
Committee MemberLUKACS, GABRIELLAlukacs@pitt.eduLUKACS
Date: 25 September 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 March 2014
Approval Date: 25 September 2014
Submission Date: 20 June 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 320
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: material culture, fengshui, materiality, globalization, glocalization, global commodity chain, crystal
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2014 15:01
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:21


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