This article examines how middle-class Thai Americans in Silicon Valley, California, conflate Thai Buddhism with capitalism, and how they convert economic capital into symbolic capital through merit-making. Moreover, it considers the effects of transnational migration on the re-territorialization of Buddhism and the social recognition of Thais in the United States. The ethnography shows that there are more than one set of criteria for potential convertibility in heterogeneous American society, and that some capitals are convertible only within the Thai American community. Despite such constraints, the community bonds with the Thai royal family, high-ranking monks, and the Thai elite, and also forges class alliances with men and women of diverse ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds in the process of merit-making, articulating their "Thai-ness," and displaying their class status.


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pp. 115-142
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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