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Grant number like: FA-52070-05

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Ara Wilson
Duke University (Durham, NC 27705-4677)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2005 – 8/31/2006

Economic and Spiritual Exchange in the Markets of Bangkok

Since the 1970s, popular religion in Thailand has transformed as transcultural practices have been applied to the developing economy. My project is an ethnographic study of the practices and beliefs surrounding the shrines that pervade markets, stores, and shopping complexes of Bangkok. My analysis shows how economic modernization invigorates, rather than diminishes, everyday spiritual practice. Moving past interpretations of such mercantile spirituality as archaic or instrumental, I investigate how the market economy is incorporated into and interpreted by Thais’ moral and spiritual universe. The result will be two articles on the interaction of spiritual and material exchange in the expanding capitalist economy.