- Missionary Intent and Monastic Networks: Thai Buddhism as a Transnational Religion
- Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 25, Number 1, April 2010
- pp. 109-132
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Buddhism, like other world religions, is a transnational religion. Its popularity and expansion are built around intensive religio-cultural networks across nation-states' boundaries. The subject under investigation in this essay is the expansion of Buddhism from Thailand to international communities abroad. I argue that the transnationalization of Thai Buddhism since the late twentieth century has emerged out of global cultural junctures, where missionary intent and monastic networks have joined forces. The transnationalization of Thai Buddhism should be understood under the triple entwining forces of (1) the growth of Thai migrant communities abroad; (2) the Buddhist missionization abroad policy sponsored by the Sangha and the Thai government through the Ministry of Education and, recently, the Office of National Buddhism under the Ministry of Culture; and (3) the growing global interest in Buddhism in international communities and subsequent travel and exchanges concerning Buddhist ordination and meditation as well as commodification between Thailand and its transnational Buddhist communities.