The latest edition of the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 2009, Vol 40/1, has the following articles on Buddhism. All are available for free download from
Thai Buddhism, Thai Buddhists and the southern conflict
Thailand's ‘southern border provinces’ of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat – along with four districts of neighbouring Songkhla – are the site of fiery political violence characterised by daily killings. The area was historically a Malay sultanate, and was only loosely under Thai suzerainty until the early twentieth century. During the twentieth century there was periodic resistance to Bangkok's attempts to suppress local identity and to incorporate this largely Malay-speaking, Muslim-majority area into a predominantly Buddhist nation-state. This resistance proved most intense during the 1960s and 1970s, when various armed groups (notably PULO [Patani United Liberation Organization] and BRN [Barisan Revolusi Nasional]) waged war on the Thai state, primarily targeting government officials and the security forces. In the early 1980s, the Prem Tinsulanond government brokered a deal with these armed groups and proceeded to co-opt the Malay-Muslim elite. By crafting mutually beneficial governance, security and financial arrangements, the Thai state was able largely to placate local political demands.
The Politics of Buddhist identity in Thailand's deep south: The Demise of civil religion?
This article sets out to criticise arguments by scholars such as Charles Keyes and Donald Swearer, who have framed their readings of Thai Buddhism through a lens of ‘civic’ or ‘civil’ religion. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in the southern border provinces, the paper argues that religious tolerance is declining in Thailand, and that anti-Muslim fears and sentiments are widespread among Buddhists. Some southern Buddhists are now arming themselves, and are creating militia groups in the face of growing communal violence. In the rest of Thailand, hostility towards Muslims, coupled with growing Buddhist chauvinism, is being fuelled by developments in the south.
Appropriating a space for violence: State Buddhism in southern Thailand
In southern Thailand, monasteries once served as focal points for different communal identities to negotiate shared space and, with it, shared identities. However, since martial law was declared in 2004, Muslims in southern Thailand do not frequent monasteries. Instead, soldiers and police occupy monastery buildings and protect the perimeters from attacks. In addition, there are now military monks, soldiers who are simultaneously ordained monks, who work to protect the monasteries. This article argues that the Thai State's militarisation of monasteries and the role of Buddhist monks fuel a religious dimension to the ongoing civil war in southern Thailand.
Landscapes of fear, horizons of trust: Villagers dealing with danger in Thailand's insurgent south
Thai Buddhist and Malay Muslim neighbours in Thailand's Muslim-majority deep south face the challenge of managing everyday life in the midst of an enigmatic insurgency where both ethno-religious groups are victims of violence, but where the assailants are difficult to identify. This ethnographically-focused paper examines horizons of trust and suspicion as villagers confront threats to their safety, negotiate state authorities and encounter broader narratives about identity, allegiance and enemies. Although fear and suspicion sparked by the current violence have generated Buddhist–Muslim tensions in localities, neighbourhoods and village leaders also actively resist the multiple threats to their relationships and to inter-ethnic coexistence.
also an interesting one on Cambodia:
Garuda, Vajrapālli and religious change in Jayavarman VII's Angkor
Peter D. Sharrock
Ancient Cambodia turned definitively to state Buddhism under King Jayavarman VII at the end of the twelfth century, after four centuries of state Śaivism. This paper explores the motivation behind this momentous change and tries to establish the means by which it was achieved. It uncovers signs of a very large, politically motivated campaign of tantric Buddhist initiations that required a significant overhaul of the king's temples and the creation of a new series of sacred icons.