Buddhist Fundamentalism and Thailands Political Crisis




Wednesday, April 30, 2014

@ 1 -3 PM



CRCS, Room 406

Gedung Sekolah Pascasarjana, UGM

Jl. Teknika Utara, Pogung, Yogyakarta

Tel. 544 976






As a Buddhist society, religion and politics are forever interwoven in Thailand. State rituals, bureaucratic life, and even electoral politics often reflect the richness of Buddhist beliefs, Brahmanic practices, and local spirit cults. In a general sense, the country’s decade-long political crisis has been no exception to this pattern. What is exceptional, however, is the extent to which austere Buddhist fundamentalism, in the form of new religion, is influencing the anti-Thaksin movement. The Asoke Group (a.k.a. Santi Asoke), formerly the object of much suspicion by mainstream Theravada sangha, has particularly emerged as a leading defender of culturalist arguments leveled against Thaksin, his political supporters, and democracy itself. The Yellow-shirt movement of 2008 and recent anti-government protests demonstrate the profound new influence of Buddhist fundamentalism on politics. But what is the Asoke Group? How does it differ from mainstream Theravada orders and Buddhist practice in Thailand? What is the prospect for growth of Asoke-style Buddhist fundamentalism in Thailand?   



Professor Robert Dayley teaches Political Economy at The College of Idaho. His expertise is Southeast Asia and Thailand.  He holds a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University (1997, Political Science) and an M.A. from the University of Oregon (1992, Asian Studies). He has also taught at universities in Thailand and China. Dr. Dayley is co-author of Southeast Asia in the New International Era (6 ed. Perseus/Westview 2013), a widely-used college undergraduate textbook on all eleven countries in the region. He was named in 2011 by the CASE/Carnegie Foundation as Idaho Professor of the Year and currently serves on the Board of Directors of ASIANetwork, a consortium of 160 liberal arts colleges in the United States.



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