The Supernaturalization of Thai Political Culture: Thailand's Magical Stamps of Approval at the Nexus of Media, Market and State

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Since the 1980s, new supernatural movements have become highly visible additions to Thailand's spiritual landscapes and religious marketplaces. Focused on supernatural intervention to bring success, wealth and prosperity in Thailand's expanding economy, these movements are often only tangentially related to orthodox Theravada Buddhist teachings and practice. These highly commodified wealthoriented movements emerged in the context of Thailand's economic boom in the 1980s and 1990s, and have continued to grow in popularity and develop further through the 1997 Asian economic crisis and the political conflicts that have destabilized Thai society over the past decade. The large number of colourful special issues of Thai postage stamps devoted to supernatural cults of prosperity released since 2004 reflects the relocation of these movements from the margins to the centre of national religious practice. These stamp special issues also reflect a major shift in the regime of power over public imaging that depicts the participation of Thailand's economic, political and royal elites in new forms of supernatural ritual. This ritual has now been incorporated into state projects under the aegis of officially sponsored Theravada Buddhism. No longer kept hidden or private, elite participation in supernatural ritual is becoming an increasingly visible and politically significant dimension of the symbolism and exercise of power in early twenty-first-century Thailand.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)826-879
    JournalSojourn
    Volume31
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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