Orality, text production and spiritual practice: outstanding female Thai Buddhists in the early 20th century

Associate Professor Martin Seeger, Leeds University.

This event is open to everyone.

Abstract: In pre-modern Thailand (Siam) there were significant differences in the education of men and of women. Unlike men, a large proportion of Thai women were not able to read and write, as their gender barred them from receiving corresponding education in Buddhist monasteries.  Only after 1921, when the state made education compulsory for both genders, did the number of literate women begin to increase significantly. Thus, it is not surprising that before this time, there is to date no evidence for any Buddhist treatise authored by a Thai Buddhist woman. Through a study of a number of biographies of outstanding female Thai Buddhists in the period between 1880 and 1945, I want to investigate Thai women’s access to Buddhist teachings and practice. In this talk I will also describe and analyse recent findings with regard to what appears to be one of the first Buddhist treatises ever authored by a Thai woman. These investigations will allow me to reflect on the significance of orality and memorisation skills for female Buddhist practice in early 20th century Thai Buddhism.

Published Jan. 18, 2014 2:57 PM - Last modified Apr. 3, 2014 2:23 PM