My current research project picks up where my dissertation research leaves off, and by doing so returns to a fundamental question shared by Southeast Asian and Buddhist studies: the definition of Buddhism and its religious others, whether those others be considered ‘indigenous,’ ‘brahmanist,’ ‘Hindu,’ etc. My working hypothesis claims that Buddhism requires a non-Buddhist ‘audience’ and ‘other’ and that it creates these others through a process of controlling their spirits and establishing dominance. This project is based on fieldwork not included in dissertation writeup, and ongoing research into historical archives.
I maintain an abiding and ongoing interest in folklore as part of my more general focus on vernacular culture and its interactions with hierarchical culture.
“Nuon Chea’s New Buddhism: Khmer Rouge, Modernist Buddhism, and Reconciling Narratives (if not much else).”
Deathpower [working title]. Book-length mss. based on my 2009 dissertation.
“The Buddhist ascetic who remembers past lives [lok tapos cham chiet],” in Figures of modernity in Southeast Asia, Erik Harms, Johan Lindquist, and Joshua Barker, eds. University of Hawaii Press.
Erik W. Davis. 2012. “Khmer spirits, Chinese bodies: Chinese spirit mediums and spirit possession rituals in contemporary Cambodia.” In Faith in the future: Understanding the Revitalization of Religions and Cultural Traditions in Asia, Thomas A. Reuter and Alexander Horstmann, eds. Brill Press.
Erik W. Davis. 2012. “[Review] ‘The lovelorn ghost and the magical monk: practicing Buddhism in modern Thailand.” Columbia University Press. in The Journal of Asian Studies. 71.02. pp. 585-588.
Erik W. Davis. 2012. “Weaving life out of death: the craft of the rag robe in Cambodian funerary ritual.” In Buddhist Funeral Cultures of Southeast Asia and China, Paul Williams and Patrice Ladwig, eds. Cambridge University Press.
Erik W. Davis. 2011. “Imagined parasites: flows of monies and spirits in Cambodia.” In Cambodia’s Economic Transformation, Caroline Hughes and Kheang Un, eds. Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press.
Erik W. Davis. 2010. “Transliteration of the Khmer Language.” Self-published, available for free download.
Erik W. Davis. 2008. “Between forests and families: death, desire, and order in Cambodia.” In People of Virtue: Reconfiguring Religion, Power, and Moral Order in Today’s Cambodia. Alexandra Kent and David P. Chandler, eds. (NIAS Studies in Asian Topics). University of Hawai’i Press.
Erik W. Davis. 2008. Review Essay. “Cambodge: the cultivation of a nation, 1860-1945,” by Penny Edwards, and “How to behave: Buddhism and modernity in colonial Cambodia, 1860-1930,” by Anne Ruth Hansen. Both of University of Hawai’i Press. Journal of Asian Studies. 67.3, pp. 1123-1127.
Erik W. Davis. 2008. “Imaginary conversations with mothers about death.” in At the edge of the forest: essays in honor of David Chandler. Anne R. Hansen and Judy Ledgerwood, eds. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Erik W. Davis. 2008. [Review] Forest Guardians, Forest Destroyers. The politics of environmental knowledge in Northern Thailand. By Andrew Walker and Tim Forsyth. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Erik W. Davis. 2008. [Review] How to behave: Buddhism and modernity in colonial Cambodia, 1860-1930. By Anne Ruth Hansen. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007. Published in Pacific Affairs 81.1.
Erik W. Davis. 2007. [Review]: “Out of the dark: revealing Cambodian history and religion.” a review of History, Buddhism, and new religious movements in Cambodia. John Marston and Elizabeth Guthrie, eds. 2004. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. In H-Buddhism: an H-Net discussion list.
Erik W. Davis, Sor Sokny, Tan Bunly, Chor Chanthyda, Hel Rithy, Sok Ra, Phat Chantamonyratha, Hun Chantasocheata, Som Vanna, editors. Tossanavddey roeung preng khmaer tmey. (The magazine of new Khmer folktales: gender). Phnom Penh: Buddhist Institute, 2006. [pdf]
Erik W. Davis, Sor Sokny, Tan Bunly, Chor Chanthyda, Hel Rithy, Sok Ra, Phat Chantamonyratha, Hun Chantasocheata, Som Vanna, editors. Tossanavddey roeung preng khmaer tmey. (The magazine of new Khmer folktales: tricksters). Phnom Penh: Buddhist Institute, 2006. [pdf]
Erik W. Davis, Sor Sokny, Tan Bunly, Chor Chanthyda, Hel Rithy, Sok Ra, Phat Chantamonyratha, Hun Chantasocheata, Som Vanna, editors. Tossanavddey roeung preng khmaer tmey: karkatktey (The magazine of new Khmer folktales: place). Phnom Penh: Buddhist Institute, 2006. [this issue also contains stories relating to ritual and custom]. [pdf]
Erik W. Davis, translator [Khmer to English]. 2006. Cambodian wooden architecture. A disappearing heritage, edited by François Tainturier. Phnom Penh: Center for Khmer Studies.
Erik W. Davis, Sor Sokny, Tan Bunly, Chor Chanthyda, Hel Rithy, Sok Ra, Phat Chantamonyratha, Hun Chantasocheata, Som Vanna, editors. Tossanavddey roeung preng khmaer tmey: karkatktey (The magazine of new Khmer folktales: judgment). Phnom Penh: Buddhist Institute, 2005. [see also Khmer-language forward]. [pdf]
[Review] Reason’s traces: identity and interpretation in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist thought, by Matthew Kapstein. Published in Southern Asian Languages and Culture Bulletin, Spring 2003.
Erik W. Davis. “Treasures of the Buddha: Imagining Death and Life in Contemporary Cambodian Religion.” Diss., University of Chicago Divinity School. Approved 2009. Steven Collins, Advisor.
“Nuon Chea’s New Buddhism: continuing Notes from Interviews and Court Transcripts of Nuon Chea on his relationship to Buddhism.” Imagining Cambodia conference at Northern Illinois University, September 2012.
“Simas, sacrifice, and (intercalated) sovereignty.” Association of Asian Studies, Toronto, Canada, March 2012.
“Adoption, Fertility, Magic: Imagining Something other than Religious Syncretism in Southeast Asia.” Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs (MCAA), 2011 Annual Conference, panel 17: “Inter-religious Categories and Relations.” Sunday, October 30, 2011.
“Khmer Spirits, Chinese Bodies: Spirit Possession in Contemporary Sino-Khmer Communities in Cambodia,” Center for Southeast Asian Studies‘ Friday Forum series, University of Wisconsin, Madison. April 22, 2011.
“Independent Cambodian unionism: caught between representation and apathy.” Association of Asian Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 2011.
“Children and Fieldwork: Putting Your Kids To Work.” Macalester Alumni Association, June 2010.
“May Day, Immigration, and Free Trade.” Red and Black May Day, Black Dog Cafe, May 2010.
“Sweatshop Conditions, Sweatshop Work, and Institutional Fires.” Macalester College, April 2010.
“Weaving life out of death: the pamsukula rag-robe shroud in Cambodian funerary ritual.” Association of Asian Studies, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 2010.
“Fertility, adoption, power. Moral and immoral practices in Cambodia.” American Academy of Religion, Montreal. 2009.
“Children, dependency, and power in Cambodian religion.” University of Wisconsin-Madison Annual Conference on South Asia in Madison, Wisconsin.
“Buddhism makes Brahmanism. Entities and erotics in Cambodian religion.” Keynote Address at SEASSI (Southeast Asian Summer Studies Institute) 2009 Student Conference, July 25.
“Imagined parasites: flows of Cambodian monies and spirits.” Cambodia’s Economic Transformation conference, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, January 2009.
“Kinship beyond death: ambiguous relations and autonomous children in Cambodian Buddhism.” Association of Asian Studies, Atlanta. 2008.
“Foodgetting, ritual, and value in contemporary Cambodia.” Public lecture at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 2007
“Visionary Deaths in Cambodia: social imaginaries of agriculture and death.” Society for the Anthropology of Religion in Phoenix, Arizona. 2007
“Chanting death and binding life: two funerary subrituals in Cambodian Buddhism.” Association of Asian Studies in Boston, Massachusetts. 2007
Erik W. Davis. n.d. “The pretas are coming! Ghostly metaphors of city and country in Cambodia.” 55th meeting of the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs in Madison, Wisconsin.
“Ethnicity and ritual practices: action becomes identity.” Guest Lecturer, Center for Advanced Study. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 2006.
“Agriculture, religion and ethnicity in the Mekong Basin – ‘heterogeneous assemblages’ and the dependent origination of ethnic identity.” Rethinking Mainland Southeast Asia Conference at the Center for Khmer Studies. 2006.
“Grounding Buddhism: representations, practices, and local geography.” Socio-Cultural Research Congress on Cambodia. 2005.
“Between forests and families: a remembered past life in Pre-DK Cambodia.” Reconfiguring Religion, Power, and Moral Order in Cambodia. 2005.
“Indices of Authority: character and the construction of authority in the Pali Canon.” Graduate Student Buddhist Studies Conference. 2001.
“Bodies of Knowledge: The Tug of War over Native American Dead.” Religion, Identity, and Reconciliation Graduate Student Conference. 2001.
August/September 2010. [Review] “‘For The Win’ Teaches Young Adults How To Organize.” Industrial Worker. 107.7, p. 10.
June 2010. “IWW Hosts Sweatshop Workers Tour of U.S.” Industrial Worker. 107.5, pp. 1, 11.
March 2009. “Independent Unionism in Cambodia. Severe Challenges as Garment Industry Takes Hit.” Industrial Worker. 106.2, pp. 1, 3.
June 2008. “Militant, independent, All-Cambodian Union. Union perseveres despite murders, threats.” Industrial Worker. 105.4, p. 15.