The Ravenous Spirit (phii pob) Belief Tradition in Contemporary Thailand: Pluralistic Practices versus Monolithic Representation

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Date
2016-03
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[Bloomington, Ind.] : Indiana University
Abstract
The ravenous spirit belief tradition in northeast Thailand is practiced variably in different belief communities. However, Thai academia and mass media exclusively draw on the abusive aspects of this belief tradition. The negative and monolithic representation reinforces the preconceived idea of the "superstitious" folk whose false logic generate barbaric social practices that need to be eliminated. Also, it reinforces a simplistic but dominant understanding among non-believers that ravenous spirit beliefs are practiced in the same way everywhere and generate abusive social practices in all contexts. In response to this problem, this dissertation illustrates three main points: (1) The ravenous spirit belief tradition is practiced variably in different social contexts. (2) The dominant discourses about the ravenous spirit belief tradition produced by Thai academia and mass media are problematic because they neglect the benign variants of the tradition. (3) Ravenous spirit beliefs, rather than reflecting a false logic, are believers' logical attempts to make sense of, and devise sensible reactions to, baffling and troublesome experiences.
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Thesis (Ph.D.) - Indiana University, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, 2016
Keywords
folk belief, northeast Thailand, phi pob, spirit
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Doctoral Dissertation