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The Life and Times of Li Hongzhi: "Falun Gong" and Religious Biography

Benjamin Penny
The China Quarterly
No. 175 (Sep., 2003), pp. 643-661
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20059033
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Life and Times of Li Hongzhi: "Falun Gong" and Religious Biography
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Abstract

When the suppression of the "falun gong" started in July 1999, one of the targets of the government's propaganda was the biography of Li Hongzhi, its founder and leader. This article examines two versions of a biography of Li Hongzhi published by the "falun gong" in 1993 and 1994 that are no longer available. This biography presents Li as possessing superhuman abilities and god-like insight. In my analysis, I place this biography in the context of a centuries-old tradition of religious biography in China showing that, in textual terms, it represents a contemporary example of that venerable genre. As with its precursors, this biography seeks to establish a genealogy of the figure whose life is recorded and to buttress the orthodoxy of his doctrine.

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