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Buddhist FuryReligion and Violence in Southern Thailand$
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Michael K. Jerryson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199793235

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199793235.001.0001

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(p.50) 2 Representation
Buddhist Fury

Michael K. Jerryson

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the symbolic power of southern Buddhist monks and its connection to the violence. By its tactical use of Buddhism as a state religion, the Thai government politicizes Buddhist monks through state rhetoric and official programs, thereby transforming monks into embodiments of Thai nationalism and Thai Buddhism. As political entities, monks physically become military targets in the conflict. Because of his significance, an attack on a Buddhist monk is a defacement of the sacred. The combination of a politicized representation, a defacement, and a conflict over space becomes a catalyst for religious violence. This equation of Buddhist violence is tested in different conflicts such as in Vietnam, Myanmar, and Arizona.

Keywords:   symbolic power, representation, defacement, state religion, Thai nationalism, Thai Buddhism, religious violence, Vietnam, Myanmar

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