Asian Review

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This paper casts a gender lens on the history of the Thai Buddhist monkhood and the monastic order, or the sangha, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It argues that the historical development of the Thai Buddhist sangha has been a gendered process, in which the exclusive maleness of the sangha has had to be maintained and reconsolidated over time to keep it a predominantly male domain. This was particularly the case during the period of Buddhist reform and bureaucratization of the sangha, which is the focus of this paper. In this gendered historical process, women were often constituted as "the other" whose physical embodiment and sexuality came to be increasingly posited as a threat to the purity of the institutionalized sangha; therefore, women needed to be kept away from the monastic sphere altogether. This gendered history of the sangha has rendered it more difficulty for women to pursue a Buddhist monastic vocation.



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