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Forces of change: A theoretical analysis of syncretism between Theravada Buddhism and animistic indigenous beliefs in Thailand
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Culture Studies, Religious Studies and Educational Sciences.
2010 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 80 credits / 120 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Urak Lawoi is the name of one of the sea nomadic tribes which lives along the shores of Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia. They are spread on many of the islands in the Andaman Sea archipelago and Ko Lanta is the main settlement. Urak Lawoi is regarded as the indigenous people of the island and they live there as a minority together with Muslims and Thai-Chinese.  The traditional religion and culture of Urak Lawoi is built upon the animistic belief of their ancestors. In the last 20 years Ko Lanta has experienced a tremendous process of change caused by increasing tourism. The conditions of the Urak Lawoi and their way of life have dramatically changed. The fact that this process brings consequences for the traditional culture and religion is obvious, but in what direction is it developing? To be able to interpret and expound the material from my field studies among Urak Lawoi on Ko Lanta in October-December 2009, I have done a literature search to investigate the animistic traditions and the syncretistic nature of belief in Thailand. I have also tried to find theories about the process of religious change and the forces working behind them. In this essay I am trying to do a theoretical analysis of the field study material using theories and parallel examples I have found in the literature.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , 60 p.
Keyword [en]
History of religion, anthropology of religion, animism, syncretism, anti-syncretism, sea nomads, sea gypsies, Urak Lawoi, Chao Ley, Thai Mai, spirit, ghost, indigenous people, ancestors, founders’ cults, spirit cults, Theravada Buddhism, Ko Lanta, Andaman Sea, Thailand.
National Category
Humanities Religious Studies Religious Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-8073Archive number: HRV:D10:3OAI: diva2:376317
Subject / course
Religious studies
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2014-02-19 Created: 2010-12-10 Last updated: 2014-02-19Bibliographically approved

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