Making Fields of Merit

Buddhist Female Ascetics and Gendered Orders in Thailand

by Monica Lindberg Falk

Falk_cover.jpg
299 pp., illustrated
Gendering Asia # 2
Available from NIAS Press worldwide except North America




Ebook - 2011, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 521 3, £16.99
Hardback - 2007, Available
ISBN 978 87 91114 65 6, £45.00
Paperback - 2007, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 019 5, £16.99


Religion plays a central role in Thai society with Buddhism intertwined in the daily lives of the people. Religion also plays an important role in establishing gender boundaries. The growth in recent decades of self-governing nunneries (samnak chii) and the increasing interest of Thai women in a Buddhist monastic life are notable changes in the religion–gender dynamic.

This anthropological study addresses religion and gender relations through the lens of the lives, actions and role in Thai society of an order of Buddhist nuns (mae chii). It presents an unique ethnography of these Thai Buddhist nuns, examines what it implies to be a female ascetic in contemporary Thailand and analyses how the ordained state for women fits into the wider gender patterns found in Thai society. The study also deals with the nuns’ agency in creating religious space and authority for women. In addition, it raises questions about how the position of Thai Buddhist nuns outside the Buddhist sangha affects their religious legitimacy and describes recent moves to restore a Theravada order of female monks.

 

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