The Gift Aporia

An Appraisal of Religious Giving in Taiwan’s Money God Temples

Fabian Graham

Although there is no contractual agreement with the temple, recipients usually return the money with between one hundred and one thousand per cent interest at a later date. The two case study temples claim to receive millions of visits a year, and the total amount given annually totals over one billion Taiwan dollars. Utilising Derrida’s concept of a ‘true gift’ as a starting point for a multi-layered analysis, this paper untangles the complex web of giving, reciprocity and exchange involved, and examines the impossibility of Derrida’s ‘true gift’ both from the perspective of the money god temples, and from the suppositional perspective of devotee-deity interactions.

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