Sounding on Buddhism, April 13, 2011

I’m pushing forward with my new schedule for Sounding posts, where I collect a variety of links on a shared topic (“Cambodia, Buddhism, or Religion,” e.g.) and make a few comments about them.  Today is Buddhism day.

  • Aung San Suu Kyi’s son to temporarily ordain as a Buddhist monk
  • Meditation “Better than morphine?”
  • “New Books in Buddhist Studies” online service
  • Separation of Church and State, Equal Treatment, issues in Stupa on National Park Service land
  • Why Hollywood should just stop making movies about ‘other people’s’ religions as backdrop.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s son to temporarily ordain as a Buddhist monk

Did you hear that Aung San Suu Kyi’s son is going to ordain as a Buddhist Monk?  Apparently.  The son, whose heartthrob status will probably only be increased by this honorable, celibate, act (he is a heck of a good-looking young man), will ordain, but the explicit purpose of his ordination is unclear.  Very often, novitiate ordination is understood primarily as an act which makes merit for one’s mother, so it’s very clearly direct towards his mother.  But the act also dovetails with a sense of opening possibility for a renewed National League for Democracy political party (NLD).

Continue reading


Developmental Nationalist Ventriloquism and Cui Bono?

David Lempert, whose distressingly hilarious and obviously self-authored wikipedia page is today’s must read, was mentioned in these pages briefly a few days ago, in which I characterized him as a person promoting a Cham homeland, and compared him to people who know better.

My qualifications on this discussion are extremely limited. I am a fluent Khmer speaker who conducted three years of fieldwork in Cambodia, one year of which was funded by the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship, and some time of which was funded by the Center for Khmer Studies. I mention these sources of funding to indicate that I share some of Lempert’s funding. I received other funding as well, which is not apparently relevant to this discussion.

Some of my fieldwork included fieldwork in village Kompong Cham, a province inside of Cambodia (not, as Lempert implies, somehow a mixed border area with joint jurisdiction between Vietnam and Cambodia). I do not speak Cham, and although I teach in a religious studies department, my expertise does not include Islam. I do, however, have the capacity for critical thought, and have no dog in this fight. Continue reading


Tim Sakhorn is in Vietnam

Disappeared monk is in fact currently jailed in Vietnam []

CCHR: The defrocking of Monk Tim Sakhorn is Political [rfa]

Missing monk detained in Vietnam, Embassy Official Confirms [voa]

All very strange, since Vietnam has denied that it ever issued a visa to Sakhorn, as I reported at the time. It is deeply unclear what jurisdiction Vietnam has over Sakhorn’s activities in Cambodia.


Phantasmatic Authority Redux

In a post a few days ago, I noted that

Is this a case of botched terror or successful phantasmatic conjuring? The next few weeks might supply the answer, depending on the state’s response. Will they crackdown further on the Khmer Krom community? Will they blame the SRP or their non-existent ‘Army’ (another clear case of phantasmatic authority), or even Kem Sokha’s new Human Rights Party?

I regret that immediately following that posting, the very next day in fact, the stories began trickling out. It turns out that the bomb-planters were Khmer Krom people living in Cambodia as moto-dops and construction workers, and although the police are woefully incompetent at solving high-profile cases, they apprehended these culprits within hours. Perhaps this is because these culprits are ‘terrorists,’ and therefore legitimate targets in the eyes of the large foreign-aid providing donor nations. Oy, gevalt.

In other news, a SRP activist in Banteay Meanchey was assassinated.