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Title: Buddhism on the Border: Shan Buddhism and Transborder Migration in Northern Thailand
Authors: Murakami, Tadayoshi
Author's alias: 村上, 忠良
Keywords: Buddhism
Thai-Myanmar border
transborder migration
lay Buddhists
Issue Date: Dec-2012
Publisher: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
Journal title: Southeast Asian Studies
Volume: 1
Issue: 3
Start page: 365
End page: 393
Abstract: This paper examines the transformation of Shan Buddhism in the border area of Northern Thailand. Shan and other ethnic groups have a long history of migration between Northern Thailand and the Shan State of Myanmar; the migration continued even after the border was demarcated at the end of the nineteenth century. Recently, the migration has become unidirectional--from Myanmar to Thailand-- and the number of migrants is growing steadily. An anomalous situation exists in this area: a fluid border crossing of people, goods, and information in spite of rigid border control by the Thai government. In the religious sphere, the Thai government has been institutionalizing and standardizing "Thai Buddhism" since the early twentieth century. The government's efforts seem to have succeeded, resulting in the unified organization of "State Sangha" and a systematized curriculum for monastic education. In the process, local Sanghas (Buddhist monastic communities) in the kingdom have been integrated into the State Sangha of Thailand. However, Shan Buddhism in the border area has not been totally assimilated into Thai Buddhism and maintains its unique seasonal festivals, religious rites of passage, practices using Shan manuscripts, and temple architecture. By focusing on the movement of people in the border area, where strong state control and a porous border coexist, this paper analyzes the important role of border migration in the continuation and development of Shan Buddhist practices in Northern Thailand.
Appears in Collections:Vol.1 No.3

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