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A Hermeneutic on Dislocation as Experience

Creating a Borderland, Constructing a Hybrid Identity


Hemchand Gossai and Jung Eun Sophia Park

Dislocation, which involves moving from a familiar place to an unknown place, is a common experience in this era of globalization yet it can cause a deep sense of alienation – people feel invisible, voiceless, and anonymous. A Hermeneutic on Dislocation as Experience: Creating a Borderland, Constructing a Hybrid Identity employs socio-rhetorical criticism from a postcolonial perspective, providing a hermeneutic on the experience of dislocation from the perspective of Asian immigrant women. The author’s focus on Asian immigrant women’s spirituality is interwoven with different texts such as the story of a woman caught in adultery (Jn. 7: 53-8:11), Asian immigrant women’s stories in the novels Dictee and Crossings, and stories of Korean shamans encountered in the author’s ethnographic fieldwork.
This book suggests that people who experience dislocation can create a borderland where their own marginality gains power and voice. In that borderland, they are able to construct a hybrid identity as a result of deep engagement with one another. In particular, the author’s fieldwork on Korean shamans reveals how the shamanic ritual itself functions as a borderland, wherein the marginalized Korean shamans gain hybrid identity. A Hermeneutic on Dislocation as Experience is a valuable resource for classes in Asian studies, ethnography, cultural anthropology, biblical spirituality, women’s spirituality, and interdisciplinary courses.


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Chapter 3: A Shamanic Narrative as a Borderland 43


a shamanic narrative as a borderland · 3 · This chapter examines how the dislocated individual experiences transforma- tion as a part of hermeneutics on the experience of dislocation. To discuss this empowering process, I will refer to the shamanic community I discov- ered in Jangheung, South Korea while I was conducting my field research from 2004–2006. My ethnographical work provides a thick description and an interpretation of a Korean shamanic community and its rituals because Korean shamanism is one of the most fundamental spirituality embedded in the living experience of Koreans. The ethnography provides an example how an dislocated person, specifi- cally a novice shaman gains a hybrid identity. Because of the anecdotal nature of ethnography, the tone of this chapter differs from that of the other chapters. First of all, ethnography involves “thick description” in which the researcher rejects a simplified synthesis of a framed theory or concept. Instead, ethnog- raphy provides room for potential discovery and increased understanding of processes. Ethnographic projects that are heavily motivated by cultural theory must be allowed to “breathe,” especially in terms of their descriptive accounts of field research.1 Second, regarding description, ethnographic writing empha- sizes a circular mode of description, relying on repetition, in order for the 1. George E. Marcus, Ethnography Through Thick & Thin (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 18. park_book.indd 43 10/4/11 3:33:11 PM 44 a hermeneutic on dislocation as experience researcher to provide readers with a convincing sense of place and events. Out of thick...

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