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Title: Religion as Non-religion: The Place of Chinese Temples in Phuket, Southern Thailand
Authors: Kataoka, Tatsuki  KAKEN_id
Author's alias: 片岡, 樹
Keywords: Thailand
Chinese temples
Issue Date: Dec-2012
Publisher: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
Journal title: Southeast Asian Studies
Volume: 1
Issue: 3
Start page: 461
End page: 485
Abstract: This paper, based on a case study of Chinese temples in Phuket, aims to demonstrate the importance of religious activities lying outside "religion" in the so-called "Buddhist" societies in Thailand, as well as to question the category of "religion" itself. In Thailand, most of the Chinese temples (called sanchao in Thai) are notrecognized as "religious places" by the religious administration (namely the Departmentof Religious Affairs), since they come under the supervision of the Ministryof the Interior. In Phuket, Chinese temples as "non-religious" places (of worship?) outnumber officially recognized Buddhist temples and they offer occasions for theworship of Buddhist deities. One of the unique features of the "Buddhist" activitiesof the Chinese temples in Phuket is that they are conducted without monks. Becausethe Chinese temples are placed outside the state protection of "religion," they arenot institutionalized as belonging to any state-approved religion. This is beneficialto the Chinese temples as they do not have to compete with "state Buddhism"; insuch temples indiscriminate syncretic worship is also latently sanctioned. In Phuketthe functions of Chinese associations and charity foundations overlap with those ofthe Chinese temples, challenging the definition of religion in yet another way. Our discussion leads us to conclude that all these activities lying outside of "religion" actually occupy an important part of "Buddhism" in Thailand. Thus a reconsideration of the framework of "Buddhism" and "religion" in Thailand is necessary.
Appears in Collections:Vol.1 No.3

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