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date: 19 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the diversity of Buddhist thought and practice in the modern nation of Thailand. The national boundaries that mark the separation between Thailand and the countries of Burma, Malaysia, Laos, and Cambodia are products of the modern era and European colonialism. Contemporary Thai Buddhist traditions reflect the fluid borders of the past, while also demonstrating the impact of modern processes of religious centralization and globalization. Part of the centralization and nation-building project of the modern Thai state involved a process of homogenization—or, to be more precise, Siamification (asserting the power of Bangkok culture and authority over other regions and traditions), but the diversity that typified the pre-modern era continues to exist in the contemporary age, albeit in different ways. This chapter begins with an examination of pre-modern diversity in order to demonstrate how contemporary Thai traditions both reflect and diverge from its varied past.

Keywords: Thailand, Buddhism, Siamification, Bangkok, colonialism

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