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[2017/05/11] ISA Research Forum: Buddhism, Economy, and Gender among the Tai Lue of Sipsong Panna (P.R. CHINA)

 

ISA-Einladung

Roger Casas (Austrian Academy of Sciences): "Buddhism, Economy, and Gender among the Tai Lue of Sipsong Panna (P.R. CHINA)"

Thursday, 11. May 2017, 4 PM

ÖAW, Institut für Sozialanthropologie
A-1020 Wien, Hollandstrasse 11-13

Sipsong Panna (Chin.: Xishuangbanna), a rapidly transforming, multi-ethnic region in southwest China, is host
to the largest community of Theravada Buddhists in the country, the Tai Lue. After suffering repression during
the Cultural Revolution, in the last decades monasticism has recovered its importance as a socializing discipline
for young Tai Lue males. At the same time, and pushed by sustained double-digit economic growth in China,
Sipsong Panna has integrated into national and regional economic webs and has become a key trade hub in the
Economic Quadrangle along with Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. In an economic context dominated by Han
Chinese businessmen and their relational networks, Tai Lue monks and former monks play a fundamental role
as the group’s resilient cultural elites, promoting locals’ engagement with market economy and even becoming
successful entrepreneurs themselves. The current prominence of these men, however, obscures the fundamental
role local women continued to play in the rural economies of Sipsong Panna. This, in turn, is a reflection of their
relatively privileged position in traditional kinship and gender regimes. In this Research Forum, Roger Casas
first will summarize his past work among village and urban communities in Sipsong Panna, focusing on the
connections between religious and secular sources of meaning and authority, and especially between Buddhist
monasticism and masculinity among Tai Lue. Then, he will offer a glimpse into his new research project which
explores the contemporary interplay between religion, economic action, and gender imaginings and practices in
this thriving frontier where China meets Southeast Asia.