Performing the Divine

Mediums, Markets and Modernity in Urban Vietnam

Kirsten W. Endres

288 pp., illustrated
NIAS Monographs # 118
Avaiable from NIAS Press worldwide

Hardback - 2011, Available
ISBN 978 87 7692 075 1, £50.00
Paperback - 2011, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 076 8, £16.99

  • Deals with timely and important topics for scholars of Vietnam as well as those interested in the cross-cultural study of popular religions.
  • Focuses on the flourishing of urban spirit mediumship as part of the recent revival of popular religion in Vietnam.
  • Explores a vibrant and imaginative religious movement within the context of market reform and economic growth in Vietnam.
  • Offers rich insights into how the complex dynamics of reformed, market-oriented socialism are played out in ritual practice.

Vietnam in the last two decades has experienced not only market reform and significant economic growth but also a related, symbiotic revival of popular religion. It is no surprise, then, that popular beliefs and rituals that once were attacked as wasteful and superstitious have again become a conspicuous feature of contemporary urban and rural life.

A new blossoming of spirit mediumship has been part of this revival, not least that involving ritual possession by the deities of the Four Palace Pantheon, which this study based in urban Hanoi brings to life with a deft handling of complex theory, historical research, ethnographic material and analysis.

This is indeed a sojourn into the world of mediumship in contemporary urban Vietnam - a spirited world full of colour, laughter, music and ritual dance that operates according to its own rules and principles - but it is also an insightful study of spirituality, performance, gender and heritage, one that highlights the fluidity of ritual practice and contestations of ritual performance among practitioners.

‘This is an excellent volume dealing with timely and important topics for scholars of Vietnam as well as those interested in the cross-cultural study of popular religions.’ (External reviewer)

Press news

  • Apr. 9 2019



    The Jade Bracelet


    by Mega Vristian


    That year winter in Hong Kong was longer than usual. I had to wear several layers of warm clothing. There was no heater in the apartment where I worked, perhaps because my employer wanted to save on the electricity. The weather should have been warmer, now that Chinese New Year was approaching.

Latest catalogue

See our latest catalogue of new books or click here to get information about the catalogue and how to get notification when a book is published.