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date: 18 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Lao Buddhism’s histories are deeply fragmented. Most Lao were deported to Siam in the nineteenth century, and after the demise of the French colonial regime, the country was drawn into the Second Indochina War. After two decades of brutal warfare and massive destructions, the Lao communist movement took power in 1975. This chapter examines the history of Lao Buddhism in the context of these events, and puts its main focus on the entanglement of religion and politics in the postcolonial phase, as the political polarization of the Lao sangha during the Cold War and the impact of the subsequent revolution remain crucial for understanding Buddhism’s position in the current Lao PDR. While under reformed socialism there has been a resurgence of Buddhism in the last two decades, the social and religious transformations resulting from rapid modernization through the capitalist economy and globalization bring new challenges for the Lao sangha.

Keywords: Laos, Buddhism, revolution, communism, colonialism, Indochina War

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