Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-9

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Preface

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pp. ix-xiii

Laos and Sri Lanka are important venues for Theravada’s persistence in the contemporary world, but their historical experiences, of course, have been quite varied, and so the manner in which aspects of the sasana (Buddhist tradition) have been cultivated in each has varied significantly as well. Buddhism was first introduced to Sri Lanka from...

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Introduction: Laos and Its Religious Culture

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pp. 1-14

The political history and religious culture of Laos are exceedingly rich, a complex tapestry of interwoven strands. Culturally, bedrock “animistic” perceptions held by virtually all of its disparate peoples, including the majority Lao, have been layered over by Indic or Sinitic philosophical conceptions, social values, and political ideals. Other more specific...

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CHAPTER 1. Powers of the Place: Buddhism and the Spirit Cults of Muang Lao

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pp. 15-75

If the spirit cults at the root of Southeast Asian religious cultures are not “timeless” or “primordial” in nature, to use now controversial and frequently discredited terms, then surely, at least, they must be recognized as archaic and ruggedly persistent. While it is not uncommon for many Lao, or outside observers of Lao culture, to say “to be Lao...

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CHAPTER 2. Interventions from Afar: Nonspiritual Powers in Place

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pp. 76-128

In this chapter my primary aim is to ascertain the impact that accompanied Thai, French, and then American interventions not only politically but in terms of transformations of the religious culture beginning in the early decades of nineteenth century and continuing through to the end of the Second Indochina War in 1975. As before I will periodically...

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CHAPTER 3. Questions of Place: Religious Culture in a Post-revolutionary Space

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pp. 129-185

In this chapter I bring the narrative about how changes in the political order in Laos have impacted religious culture to the threshold of the contemporary scene by examining how the Buddhist sangha and the spirit cults were affected by and adjusted to the establishment and policies of the Marxist revolutionary Lao Peoples Democratic Republic...

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CHAPTER 4. Commodities of the Place: Ritual Expressions and the Marketing of Religious Culture

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pp. 186-231

The spectacular growth of the international tourist industry in contemporary Laos, especially in Luang Phrabang, has been almost as remarkable as the persistence of its spirit cults. If there is any place in Asia that represents the process of globalization, to employ that now over-worn concept, it would be Luang Phrabang. Contemporary...

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CHAPTER 5. The Spirit(s) of the Place: Buddhists and Contemporary Lao Religion Reconsidered

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pp. 232-258

Throughout this study I have consistently referred to the persistent worship of phi as a cultic propitiation that is ubiquitous within Lao religious culture. I outlined the ontology and political significance of phi for the social organization of the muang in the first chapter, and in the following chapters I have indicated how spirit cults came under...

APPENDIX 1. Transformations of the Ramayana

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pp. 259-269

APPENDIX 2. The Cult of Khwan

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pp. 271-274

Notes

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pp. 275-319

Bibliography

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pp. 321-329

Index

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pp. 331-348

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About the Author

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pp. 349-365

John Clifford Holt is William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Humanities in Religion and Asian Studies at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. He has authored numerous books, among them The Buddhist Visnu: Religious Transformation, Politics and Culture (2004), The Religious World...

Image Plates

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pp. 366-370