Guest lecture by Dr. Pattana Kitiarsa

jointly hosted by the Asian Dynamics Initiative and the Department of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

Of Men and Monks: Boxing-Buddhism Nexus and the Production of National Manhood in Contemporary Thailand

Dr. Pattana Kitiarsa, Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore

Date: Thursday, 15 November 2012
Venue: Room 608, Leifsgade 33,6
Time: 1930 hrs.

In Thailand, boxers and Buddhist monks share many common characteristics. Most of them started their respective careers as poor, young boys from the countryside. Emerging from humble family backgrounds, they are attracted to two different extreme routes of masculine ideals. One is deemed physically violent and deeply involved with masculine contests and worldly activities, while the other offers an ideal path to renounce the world and engage in a model of religious asceticism. How can Thai boxing (muai Thai) and Theravada Buddhism coexist and be widely practiced without significant tension in contemporary Thailand? How and why can Thailand possibly be home to the two seemingly extremely contrasting cultural modes of masculine expressions? In this talk, Dr. Pattana Kitiarsa will argue that boxing and Buddhism are taken by the Thais as a hegemonic cultural nexus, in which they form a basis of everyday gendered ideological practices and social institutions. In and through the boxing-Buddhism nexus, certain style and sensitivity of Thai national manhood is produced and sustained. Discussions will be drawn from his data gathering through ethnographic fieldwork in Northeastern Thailand and other related secondary sources.

All are welcome.