Megan Bryson

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Megan Bryson
Graduate Dissertation Fellow 2008-09, Religious Studies

Megan Bryson is writing a dissertation entitled, "The Domestication of Baijie Shengfei: Gender and Ethnicity in Chinese Religion." She is using historical and anthropological methods to study the worship of the goddess Baijie in the Bai ethnic group of southwest China's Yunnan Province. The dissertation focuses on the issues of ethnicity and gender as they relate to the theme of domestication, namely, how the Bai turned imports from the Chinese state - such as Buddhism and the chastity cult - into expressions of their ethnic identity as represented by Baijie. This is primarily a study of the relationship between people and gods, in this case how symbols of the divine describe and prescribe social identities, and specifically how concepts of ethnicity and gender are constructed in a religious context. Megan spent the 2007-2008 year conducting research in Dali, Yunnan.