Pub. Date:
Deathpower: Buddhism's Ritual Imagination in Cambodia

Deathpower: Buddhism's Ritual Imagination in Cambodia

by Erik Davis

Hardcover(New Edition)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Monday, September 27


Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Cambodia, Erik W. Davis radically reorients approaches toward the nature of Southeast Asian Buddhism's interactions with local religious practice and, by extension, reorients our understanding of Buddhism itself. Through a vivid study of contemporary Cambodian Buddhist funeral rites, he reveals the powerfully integrative role monks play as they care for the dead and negotiate the interplay of non-Buddhist spirits and formal Buddhist customs.

Buddhist monks perform funeral rituals rooted in the embodied practices of Khmer rice farmers and the social hierarchies of Khmer culture. The monks' realization of death underwrites key components of the Cambodian social imagination: the distinction between wild death and celibate life, the forest and the field, and moral and immoral forms of power. By connecting the performative aspects of Buddhist death rituals to Cambodian history and everyday life, Davis undermines the theory that Buddhism and rural belief systems necessarily oppose each other. Instead, he shows Cambodian Buddhism to be a robust tradition with ethical and popular components extending throughout Khmer society.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231169189
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 12/08/2015
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Erik W. Davis is associate professor of religious studies at Macalester College. His research interests include contemporary religious movements, spirit possession, and the ritualization of ethnic boundaries.

Table of Contents

Note on Transliteration
1. Getting Sited in Cambodia
2. The Funeral
3. Rice, Water, Hierarchy: The Wild and the Civil
4. Building Deathpower and Rituals of Sovereignty
5. Binding Mighty Death: The Craft and Authority of the Rag Robe in Cambodian Ritual Technology
6. Gifts and Hungry Ghosts
7. Eating Leftovers, Rumors, and Witchcraft
8. Buddhism Makes Brahmanism
Khmer Glossary
Works Cited

Customer Reviews