Buddhism and Resilience in Post-tsunami Thailand

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review

Abstract

Religion is particularly important in times of crises and difficulties. After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami Buddhist monks became of great significance for the survivors in Thailand.
They performed cremations, helped the survivors to understand and accept what has happened, provided leadership, conducted important rituals and organized aid. The Buddhist temples became the main venues for people seeking refuge and the temples became shelters for survivors, volunteers and temples acted as forensic sites with thousands of dead bodies.

The focus of this paper will be on Buddhism and resilience in the recovery process after a disaster. The paper aims to discuss how disasters are dealt with on a local level with emphasis on how Buddhism interplays in the processes of resilience building. The paper will provide a brief overview of how the contested concept of resilience has developed. Vulnerabilities are dependent upon a complex relationship of various factors including gender. The paper argues that religion has the capacity to strengthen resilience building but resilience can also be undermined and disrupted by actions carried out in the name of religion. The paper will also show examples of how Buddhist practices can be important in resilience building both in terms of individual and communal capacities.

The ethnography for this paper is from long-term anthropological research carried out mainly in Phang Nga province, the worst affected province in Thailand after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. I have investigated local initiatives that used Buddhist leadership to handle the catastrophe.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 14

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Anthropology

Free keywords

  • Resilience
  • Vulnerability
  • Buddhism
  • Thailand
  • Anthropology
  • Disaster
  • Tsunami

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