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Center for Southeast Asian Studies pres.

CSEAS Lecture Series. Crafting Theravada Buddhism: Touch and Material in the lives of Thai Buddhists

Anthony Lovenheim Irwin, University of Michigan

Forming, touching, and repairing Buddhist objects and architecture are central to the religious lives of Thai Buddhists, be they monks, craftspeople, or laypeople. Thai historical chronicles, local legends, and everyday discourse position the intentional physical contact with Buddhist material (through ritual and everyday labor) as generating spiritual benefit and constructing ethical values. Drawing on historical analysis and ethnographic work, this talk presents a number of cases that show how Thai Buddhists hold hand-based religious touch to be spiritually powerful and socially efficacious.
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