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Worldly compromise in Thai Buddhist modernism

Subrahmanyan, A. (2019) Worldly compromise in Thai Buddhist modernism. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 50 (2). pp. 179-201.

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Buddhist modernist movements transformed the religious practice and social engagement of one of the world's principal faiths in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These movements produced diverse effects on Asian societies which, despite generic similarities, are best understood in particular socio-historical contexts. This article examines the work of a group of young Thai monks and laymen who had an ambitious aim to morally improve and empower people; and the practical adaptation of this impulse in a society in transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional democracy in the 1930s. Like many modernist movements, their work was innovative. But it also was an inheritance of religious and political history, and the Thai modernist case thus shows a contradiction between novelty and custom that was resolved in a way that blunted the movement's reformist energy.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright: © 2019 The National University of Singapore
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