This paper aims to reconsider existing arguments on “Thai Buddhism” by referring to legal status and activities of Chinese temples. Chinese temples in Thailand have dropped from the officially recognized domain of “religious places” since the Thai government translated the western concept of religion as satsana. This means that the vast majority of Chinese temples have flourished outside the government’s control of officially registered religions. Nevertheless, Chinese temples provide venues for lay Buddhists to worship Buddhism-related deities, and indeed, worshippers at such Chinese temples are also Buddhists in an official (statistical) and broader sense. In Phuket, such Chinese temples as non-religious places occupy considerable parts of locally practiced Buddhism, and their activities run contrary to previous assumptions on “Thai Buddhism” provided by a series of Sangha-centric arguments. These facts remind us that the Sangha-centric view on “Thai Buddhism” is too narrow to articulate its actual components. Actual “Thai Buddhism” has always relied on such “non-religious” elements as Chinese temples to sustain itself.
This paper analyzes the case of the “fostering” custom called ri'ko among the Hausa in northern Nigeria, and discusses how, in addition to the biological parents, “foster parents” can be crucial parent figures for a child’s growth. Recently, multiple parents-child relationships, including non-biological relationships, are being discussed in kinship studies. However, the roles and characters of multiple parents may not be clearly pointed out yet. Among the Hausa, the relationship between biological parents and their child is officially guaranteed. Instead, “foster parents” traditionally behave as “guardians” with all responsibilities for the “foster child,” and biological parents respect what “foster parents” do. In the present, because of expenses for schooling and modern medical treatment, it is hard for some “foster parents” to take all responsibilities for their “foster child.” However “foster parents” manage and keep their pride with some kind of support from biological parents. The Hausa case in which “foster parents” and biological parents exist together as parents of a child is illustrative of multiple parents-child relationships in which each pair of parents is important.
This paper describes the implications of the Vietnamese government’s language policies for the Mong people. Although the policies have been successful in raising literacy and primary school enrollment since Doi Moi (market-oriented economic reform), they have not been successful in producing the “loyalty to the nation-state” intended by nationalist policies. The policy objective was to make the Mong identify as Vietnamese after mastering the Vietnamese language, but in reality many people stop going to school after mastering basic Vietnamese. Few Mong attend secondary school, especially compared with other ethnic minorities such as the Tay or Muong. More importantly, perhaps, conversion to “Mong Cult Protestantism” continues, and some even cause “riots” in the mountainous areas. At the same time, the government has also provided ethnic language education for the Mong people. The purpose of this policy has evolved over time. In the 1990s the objective was to preserve ethnic culture, but since the 2000s, the purpose has been to maintain national security in the Mong areas. Futhermore, the Vietnamese (Kinh) cadres have also started studying the Mong language in order to increase their understanding of the Mong people and gather information on Mong society.
Thai politics has become chaotic since 2006. Court verdicts and military intervention have become more instrumental in the change of national leaders than national elections. This essay argues that Thailand’s current political crisis derives from democratization. This essay approaches the crisis from a historical perspective. Elections made little difference for so long after their original introduction in 1932 since, for national leaders who assumed office by military coup, the key to acquiring and maintaining power was the armed forces and civilian bureaucracy, rather than national elections. However, democratization advanced slowly from the 1970s, and accelerated in the 1990s. In 1997, the electoral system became the focus of attention for the first time in the process of drafting a new constitution. Electoral reform was pivotal to democratization. Elections came to count and became indispensable for ordinary citizens. Anti-democratic forces, spearheaded by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (yellow shirts), did not feel happy with this expanding democratization and resorted to a coup to stall the momentum for democratization. Against these anti-democratic forces, another political group, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (red shirts) emerged. These two forces struggled respectively against and for elections.