Pacific Affairs, 82(1), 2009

The issue of female monastics has long been debated in Thailand. Lindberg Falk expands the discussion through an in-depth, insightful and provocative ethnography of mae chii, the largest category of Thai female Buddhist ascetics.

The issue of female monastics has long been debated in Thailand. Lindberg Falk expands the discussion through an in-depth, insightful and provocative ethnography of mae chii, the largest category of Thai female Buddhist ascetics. She challenges the predominant scholarly interpretations of mae chii as providing a means of escape for women from poverty, bad marriages, broken hearts and other life problems. Instead, Lindberg Falk portrays the genuine spiritual motivations of these women, and their religious lives devoted to study and meditation practice. … Rather than disrupting Thai society and creating a sense of disorder, as many in Thailand perceive them, mae chii offer an alternative to women long left outside the realm of the male sangha, or order of Buddhist monks.

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