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Buddhism in Decline: Media Narratives in Thailand

By Brooke Schedneck “In deeply religious Thailand, monks have long been revered. But badly behaved clergy, corruption scandals, and the vast wealth amassed by some temples has many asking if something is rotten at the heart of Thai Buddhism. From selfies on private jets to multimillion dollar donations from allegedly crooked businessmen, Thailand’s monks are coming under increasing fire for their embrace of commercialism.” This quote from Delphine Thouvenot and Thanaporn Promyamyai’s Bangkok Post article from 2015 titled “Chequebook Buddhism: Threat to Buddhism in Thailand?” exemplifies the ways the media, both foreign and Thai, frequently constructs Buddhism in Thailand as existing in a state of collapse. In many opinion pieces, Buddhism is portrayed as a religion in dire need of transformation, reform, or even an entire overhaul. The highest-ranking monks, called the Sangha Council, are criticized for their weak actions and lack of power. Editorials often state th ...

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A Lexicon of Repression in Thailand

By Tyrell Haberkorn In an essay for the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Asian Studies (“The Anniversary of a Massacre and the Death of a Monarch,” currently free to download), I reflect on the fortieth anniversary of the 6 October 1976 massacre, when state and para-state forces brutally murdered unarmed students at Thammasat University in Bangkok. Unresolved questions about the possible role of the institution of the monarchy in the massacre have been a primary factor both ensuring impunity for the perpetrators and constricting public discussion about the massacre. The anniversary events, held under the military regime of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and marked by calls for recognition of the humanity of those killed, directly challenged the ongoing impunity of the perpetrators of the massacre. One week after the anniversary, Rama IX, Bhumipol Adulyadej, died and the crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn, was named his successor as Rama X. One of the primary features of the NCPO ...

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Photo of the Week: Rain and Writing in Toronto

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Pictured above: the view from an office at York University. It’s been raining the past few days in late May in Toronto, Canada, but I’ve been enjoying the view at least as I write a chapter for an upcoming edited collection of essays on the popular tv show Steven Universe. My chapter explores the anime influences of the show, in particular Kunihiko Ikuhara’s Revolutionary Girl Utena. The rain keeps me calm and focused on this project, with the first chapter draft due at the end of the summer. 

—Jacqueline Ristola

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A Tribute to Ainslie T. Embree

By John Stratton Hawley It is my sad duty to report that Ainslie Embree died on the morning of June 6, 2017 at the age of 96. Anyone who knew him will remember his capacious intellect, his deep belief that the past is important to know, and equally, that the present is important to live.  Ainslie served the profession in countless ways, as chair of Columbia’s History Department and Associate and then Acting Director of its School of International and Public Affairs, as President of the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) and the AAS, as member of countless committees, and as a teacher and a friend. He was a special advisor to two ambassadors to India, Robert Goheen and Frank Wisner, and taught there as a young man. He loved the country. Everything he ever did or wrote is testament to that. He also had a deep interest in religion in all its forms—not an uncritical interest, though, as many of you will know. If you knew Ainslie, you also knew his boundless savvy and wit, and oh how ...

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2017 AAS Election Slate of Candidates

We are pleased to announce the slate of candidates for the fall 2017 AAS elections. Candidates’ biographical data will be posted on the AAS website later in the summer, and the online ballot activated in September or October. Election day (when the ballot is closed and votes counted) has not yet been finalized but will be in early November. Newly elected representatives will take office immediately after the annual conference in March, 2018. Our sincere thanks to all candidates for accepting nominations to represent their respective areas and councils. President: Anne Feldhaus (religion, Arizona State University, automatically succeeds from VP) Vice President: Prasenjit Duara (history, Duke University) R. Bin Wong (history, University of California, Los Angeles) China and Inner Asia Council: Weihong Bao (film & media, University of California, Berkeley) Jack Chen (literature, University of Virginia) Johan Elverskog (religion, Southern Methodist University) Anne Gerritsen (history, Univers ...

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