Books and handbooks

Buddhist Funeral Cultures of Southeast Asia and China (editor with Paul Williams), Cambridge University Press.

Buddhist environmental activity manual for monks and educators teaching in primary schools (with Mirjami Pykalai), Vientiane: Alliance for Religion and Conservation/World Bank, 2005, 112 p. [in Lao]

Short dictionary of religious and Buddhist terms Lao-English, Vientiane/Luang Prabang, 2004, 87 p. [in Lao]

Death rituals among the Lao: An ethnological analysis, Berlin: Seacom Studies in Southeast Asian Anthropology, 2003, 161 p. (Series No. 15; ISSN 1432-9301)

Revolutionaries and Reformers in Lao Buddhism (under contract with Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism, forthcoming).

Buddhist Socialisms. Asian Interactions of Buddhism, socialist ideologies and communist movements in historical perspective (single editor, under contract with Routledge Studies in Religion and Politics, forthcoming).

Peer-reviewed Journal articles

Introduction. Against Harmony: Radical Buddhism in Thought and Practice (with James Shields). Special Issue of Politics, Religion & Ideology, Vol. 15/2, 2014, pp. 187–204.

Millennialism, Charisma and Utopia: Revolutionary Potentialities in Pre-modern Lao and Thai Theravāda Buddhism. Politics, Religion & Ideology Vol.15/2, 2014, pp. 308-329.

Worshipping relics and animating statues. Transformations of Buddhist statecraft in contemporary Laos. Modern Asian Studies, 2014, online: doi:10.1017/S0026749X13000486.

Haunting the state. Rumours, spectral apparitions and the longing for Buddhist charisma in Laos. Asian Studies Review Vol. 37/4, 2013, pp. 509-526.

Ontology, materiality and spectral traces. Methodological thoughts on studying Lao Buddhist festivals for ghosts and ancestral spirits. Anthropological Theory Vol. 12/4, 2012, pp. 427-447.

Visitors from Hell: Transformative Hospitality to Ghosts in a Lao Buddhist festival. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Special issue on Hospitality, Vol. 18, 2012, pp. S90-S102.

The Genesis and Demarcation of the Religious Field: Monasteries, State Schools, and the Secular Sphere in Lao Buddhism (1893–1975). Sojourn. Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 26(2), 2011, pp. 196-223.

Prediger der Revolution: Der buddhistische Klerus und seine Verbindungen zur Kommunistischen Bewegung in Laos (1957-1975), in: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung, Vol. XV, 2009, pp. 181-197.

The mimetic ‘representation’ of the dead and social space among the Buddhist Lao, in: Tai Culture. International Review on Tai Cultural Studies Vol. 7(2), 2002, pp. 120-134.

Relics, ‘representation’ and power. Some remarks on stupas containing relics of the Buddha in Laos, in: Tai Culture. International Review on Tai Cultural Studies Vol. 5(1), 2000, pp. 70-84.

Chapters in edited volumes, working papers and other works

Buddhism in Laos. In Jerryson, Michael (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism. New York: Oxford University Press (under review).

Mimetic theory, representation and the ‘savages’. The enlightenment and its critique through the lens of primitive mimesis. In Stockhammer, Philipp & Corinna Forberg (eds.). The Transformative Power of the Copy. Heidelberg Transcultural Studies (forthcoming).

Localizing textual imaginaries. Theravada Buddhist statecraft in mainland Southeast Asia and Laos. In Arnason, Johan & Chris Hann (eds.). Anthropology and civilizational analysis, Chicago University Press (forthcoming).

‘Special operation pagoda’. Buddhism, covert operations and the politics of religious subversion in Cold War Laos (1957-1960).  In Pholsena, Vatthana & Vanina Bouté (eds.). Contemporary Laos, Singapore University Press (forthcoming 2015).

Religious Place Making. Civilized Modernity and the Spread of Buddhism Among the Cheng, a Mon-Khmer Minority in Southern Laos. In Dickhardt, Michael & Andrea Lauser (eds.). Religion, Place and Modernity. Leiden: Brill (forthcoming 2015).

Emotions and narrative: Excessive giving and ethical ambivalence in the Lao Vessantara-Jātaka. In Collins, Steven (ed.). Studies in the Vessantara Jātaka. Columbia University Press. (forthcoming 2015).

Schools, Ritual Economies, and the Expanding State: The Changing Roles of Lao Buddhist Monks as ‘Traditional Intellectuals.’ In Kitiarsa. Pattana & John Whalen-Bridge (eds.). Buddhism, modernity and the state in Asia. New York: Palgrave, 2013, pp. 63-91.

The mobile phone monk. In Harms, Erik & Joshua Lindquist (eds.). Figures of modernity in Southeast Asia. Honolulu: Hawai’i University Press, 2013, pp. 97-99.

Fieldwork between Folders. Fragments, traces and the ruins of colonial archives (with Ricardo Roque et al.). MPI Working Papers in Social Anthropology, No. 141.

Can things reach the dead? The ontological status of objects and the study of Lao Buddhist ghost festivals. in: Endres, Kirsten & Andrea Lauser (eds.): Engaging the Spirit World in Modern Southeast Asia. Oxford/New York: Berghahn, 2012, pp. 19-41.

Feeding the dead: Ghosts, materiality and merit in a Lao Buddhist festival for the deceased. In Williams, Paul & Ladwig, Patrice (eds.). Buddhist Funeral Cultures of Southeast Asia and China. Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 119-142.

Introduction: Buddhist funeral cultures (with Paul Williams). In Williams, Paul & Patrice Ladwig (eds.). Buddhist Funeral Cultures of Southeast Asia and China. Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 1-21.

Narrative ethics: The excess of giving and moral ambiguity in the Lao Vessantara-Jataka, in: Heintz, Monika (ed.): The Anthropology of Moralities, Oxford/New York: Berghahn, 2009, pp. 136-158.

Between cultural preservation and this-worldly commitment: Modernization, social activism and the Lao Buddhist sangha, in: Goudineau, Yves & Lorillard, Michel (eds.): Nouvelles recherches sur le Laos, Collection Etudes Thématiques No.18, Paris/Vientiane: Ecole Française d'Extrême-Orient, 2008, pp. 465-490.

Die Störung des Staats-Effekts: Kulturelle Überreste und die spukenden Geister des Spätsozialismus in Laos, in: Meyer, Maximilan & Friedrich, Arndt (eds.): Ordnungen im Wandel. Globale und lokale Wirklichkeiten im Spiegel transdisziplinärer Analysen, Berlin: Transcript Verlag, 2007, pp. 57-80.

Applying the Dhamma to contemporary society: Socially engaged Buddhism and development work in Lao PDR, in: Juth Pakai - UNDP Development Journal Vol.7, 2006, pp. 16-27. [Lao/English]

Mönche „essen“ nicht. Rituelle Ökonomie, Askese und Hedonismus im Kloster, in: Südostasien Vol. 22(3), 2006, pp. 15-17.

Book reviews

Holt, John: Spirits of the place: Buddhism and Lao religious culture. Honolulu : University of Hawai’i Press. In: Pacific Affairs Vol. 83(4), 2010, pp. 825-826.

Harris, Ian (ed.):Buddhism, Power and Political Order, London, Routledge (Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism), in: Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 40, 2009, pp. 649-651.

Variations on death and the necromantic field in Buddhist Thailand. Review of: Klima, Allen: The funeral casino: Meditation, massacre, and exchange with the dead in Thailand, in: Journal of Buddhist Ethics Vol.10, 2003, pp. 72-76.

Grant Evans (ed.) (1999): Laos. Culture and society. in: Tai Culture. International Review on Tai Cultural Studies Vol. 5(2), 2000, pp. 247-248.

David P. Chandler: Voices from S-21. Terror and history in Pol Pot’s secret prison. in: Südostasien Vol.16(1), 2000, pp. 81.

Der Dandy im Pappmaché-Land. Review of: Kracht, Christian: Der gelbe Bleistift (2000), in: Südostasien Vol.16(4), 2000, pp. 24.

Mechanismen und Manipulationen der Erinnerung. Review of: Grant Evans (1998): The Politics of Ritual and Remembrance. Laos since 1975. in: Südostasien Vol.15(1/2), 1999, pp. 18–19.

Ethnographic films, Exhibitions and public outreach

Caring for the beyond: Two Lao Buddhist festivals for the deceased (with Gregory Kourilsky), Lao Art Media Production, Vientiane 2007, 35 minutes, DVD.
Information on the movie here. Free Download here

A Buddhist funeral in Northern Thailand, Black Monkey Studios, Chiang Mai/Bristol 2008, 35 minutes.

Ancestors and hungry ghost. Buddhist funeral cultures of Southeast Asia and China (exhibition organized with Ailsa Laxton & Rita Langer), University of Bristol & Photographique Gallery. 23.10 - 6.11.2009. For the online exhibition click here

Online Bibliography and exhibition on Buddhist funeral cultures (jointly with Rita Langer and Ailsa Laxton, 2009), click here
Interview on fieldwork on Buddhist death rituals and the project at University of Bristol

Presentations & Workshop organization (selection)

Workshop organizer:

Colonialism, mimesis and theories of imitation. Paper: Re-materializing empire and the mimesis of colonial rule. The reconstruction of sacred Lao monuments and the patronage of Buddhism in French Indochina, ICS Lisbon & MPI for Social Anthropology, 19.10.2012

Fieldwork between Folders. Theories of the archive and the historical anthropology of colonialism. Paper: Introduction: Archival theory? Implications for the anthropology of colonialism, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, 14.07.2011.

Panel organizer:

Towards an anthropology of Buddhism (together with Nicolas Sihlé), International Association of  Buddhist Studies (IABS), Vienna, 23.8.2014.

Buddhist Socialisms. The interaction of communist movements, socialist ideologies and Buddhism. Papers: Introduction. The comparative study of Buddhist socialism;  The Buddhist sangha and the Lao communist movement (1954-1975). International Association of  Buddhist Studies (IABS), Taipei, Taiwan, 24.6.2011.

(with Ricardo Roque): Colonial crisis and mimetic encounters: Reconfigurations of the social in historical perspective. Paper: Introduction: Empires, archives and colonial crisis. European Association of Social Anthropologists. Maynooth, Ireland, 25.8.2010.

Papers and invited lectures:

Buddhist blessing vs. merit? Perspective from doctrinal Theravada Buddhism and Lao Buddhist practice. Workshop ‘Towards an Anthropology of Blessing’. University of Cologne, 1.4.2015

‘Sprawling Charisma’. Millennialism in Lao and Thai heterodox Buddhist movements of the 19th and 20th century. Institut de Recherches Asiatiques, Maison Asie-Pacifique, Université Marseille-Aix, 12.2.2015

Discussion: Religion and Politics. DORISEAS workshop, Humboldt University, Berlin, 23.1.15

Buddhism and spirit cults revisited. Outlook and discussion. Anthropologie comparée du bouddhisme, Centre Asie du Sud-Est/EHESS, Paris, 5.12.2014.

Introduction: The comparative anthropology of Buddhism (together with Nicolas Sihlé), International Association of  Buddhist Studies (IABS), Vienna, 23.8.2014.

Alltagsleben in einem laotischen Kloster. Department of Religious Studies, University of Zuerich, 15.4.2014.

Ritual economies, sticky rice and the candy-bar flood. Food in Lao Buddhist monasteries between vinaya and modern practices. Food and Ritual: Ancient Practices and Modern Perspectives, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 21.3.2014.

Bourdieu, the religious field and Buddhist specialists. Workshop: Les spécialistes bouddhiques non-monastiques, Anthropologie comparée du bouddhisme, Centre Asie du Sud-Est/EHESS, Paris, 7.2.2014.

Re-materializing Empire and the Mimesis of Colonial Rule. The Patronage of Laos Buddhism in French Indochina, The Transformative Power of the Copy: A Transcultural and Interdisciplinary Approach, University of Heidelberg/Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, 15.2.2014.

The Buddhification of ethnic minorities and the debris of socialist modernity in southern Laos, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Zuerich, 21.10.2013.

Modernisierung, Meditation und Religionspolitik. Entwicklungen im laotischen Buddhismus zwischen Parteikontrolle und sozialer Differenzierung. Institut fuer Suedostasienwissenschaften, Bonn University, 12.06.2013.

Non-Buddhist ethnic minorities in the Buddhist historiography of mainland Southeast Asia, University of Chicago, Divinity School, 23.04.2013.

Re-Materializing Empire and Colonial Rule as Mimesis: The Reconstruction of Sacred Lao Monuments and the Patronage of Buddhism in French Indochina. International Lao Studies Conference, University of Wisconsin/Madison,19.04.2013.

Symbole und rituelle Praxis in den Todesritualen des südostasiatischen Theravada Buddhismus, 9.03.2013, Canstein Bibelzentrum/ Frankesche Stiftunge, Halle.

Zomia in Southeast Asia and beyond. Comparative notes on the genealogies and potentials of a concept. Conference: Inter-related conflicts in a Northeast African Border region (Azomia I), MPI for Social Anthropology, 16.2.2013.

Of demons, forest people and civilizing savages. Representations of non-Buddhist ethnic minorities in Theravada Buddhist historiography and narratives from Southern Laos, Centre Asie du Sud-Est/École française d'Extrême-Orient, Paris, 22.11.2012.

Hospitality, haunting and spectrality. Reflections on Laos and beyond. Institut für Afrika und Asienwissenschaften, Humboldt University Berlin, 2.11.2012

Spatializing the dhamma. The Buddhification of ethnic minorities in southern Laos. Conference: Religion, Place and Modernity in East and Southeast Asia, Göttingen, 21.09.2012

“And the Buddha looked up to the hills of Zomia…” Buddhist civilization, hegemony and ethnic minorities in Laos and Thailand. Conference: Anthropology and Civilizational Analysis: Eurasian explorations” 29.6.2012, MPI for Social Anthropology

Buddhismus als dominante Zivilisation? Der Theravada Buddhismus und animistische Minoritäten in Laos und Südostasien. Ringvorlesung ‚Religionen der Welt, Welt der Religionen’, Martin Luther University, Halle, 20.10.2011.

The living palladium and the legitimacy of rule. Transformations of Buddhist statecraft in Laos. Institute of Social Sciences/University of Lisbon, 20.4.2011.

The Re-Buddhicisation of the Lao state. On the absence of charisma and the problems of controlled revitalization. École française d'Extrême-Orient, Paris, 19.1.2011.

Materiality, ontology and spectral traces. Human-ghost relationships in a Lao Buddhist festival. Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Heidelberg, 25.1.2011.

The materiality and ontology of the invisible: Methodological and theoretical thoughts on studying Lao ghosts. Lichtenbergkolleg, Göttingen, 17.9.2010.

Lao Buddhist political theology under late socialism. European Association of Social Anthropologists. Maynooth, Ireland, 26.8.2010.

Schuld, Trauma und Heimsuchungen. Geister und sozialanthropologische Theorien im südostasiatischen Kontext. Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene (IGP), Freiburg. 2.12.2009.

Rituelle Praxis, Verdienstübertragung und Essen: Zwei Rituale für die Geister der Toten im laotischen Buddhismus. (presentation, film and discussion). Abaton Cinema/Centre for Buddhist Studies, University of Hamburg. 10.11.2009.

Caring for the beyond. Two Lao Buddhist festivals for the deceased (film presentation and discussion jointly with Gregory Kourilsky). University of Bristol, 22.10.2009.

The last friend of the corpse. Funerals, crematoria and mortician culture in Chiang Mai (film presentation and discussion). Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, 13.10.2009.

‘Sleeping in coffins and getting rid of bad luck’: Death rituals for the living and the question of occult economies in Thai Buddhism. University of Bristol, 17.2.2009

Being a guest in the realm of death: Death rituals for the living and the materiality of Thai Buddhist funeral culture. Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA), Bristol, 7.4.2009.

Caring for the dead: Transfer of merit and ancestor cults in Lao Buddhism. International Association of Buddhist Studies Conference (IABS), Atlanta, USA, 25.6.2008.

Rooting ethics and morality in narrative: The ethics of giving in Lao Buddhism. University of California, Riverside, USA, 19.2.2007.

Perturbations of the state-effect: Cultural survivals and the haunting specters of Lao late socialism. Free University Berlin, 19.1.2007.

Work discipline, solidarity and ‘Laoness’: Teaching Buddhist ethics under socialism and late socialism in Laos. Department of Social Anthropology, University College London, 19.6.2006.

The Buddhist clergy and the struggle for cultural hegemony in early Lao socialism. École française d'Extrême-Orient, Paris, 23.3.2006.

Failure and disrespect: Problematic recognition, techniques of the self and the case of a Lao Buddhist abortion nurse. Darwin College, University of Cambridge, 20.3.2006.

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