During the latter half of the twentieth century the small Karen community of Klity Creek (Thailand) suffered from industrial lead pollution. With the help of an NGO, members of the community started a civic campaign demanding environmental justice and raised public awareness about their exposure to lead pollution. The Thai Ministry of Public Health offered them medical treatment, but they rejected it. Instead, the patients/activists requested another form of treatment (chelation therapy). When this was not forthcoming, the patients began a public campaign demanding their treatment of choice and maintaining that it should be provided to all villagers contaminated with lead. Using detailed descriptions of events, this paper explores the Karen community’s civic activism demanding their treatment of choice.
This paper looks into the Philippine secondary art market, which has recently emerged with the country’s booming economy. Specifically, the paper aims to determine the effect of the August 2015 stock market sell-off on prices and profitability of art auction sales in the Philippines. Works of art may be considered as alternative investment goods for stocks. There may be greater demand for artworks as part of an investment diversification strategy when the equity market is bearish. On the other hand, artworks may also be part of a conspicuous consumption behavioral pattern, such that when income and wealth levels fall, the demand for artworks drops. To determine the net effect of stock market conditions on the Philippine art market, an empirical model is estimated using the ratio of the auctions’ hammer price to the starting bid as a measure of art market profitability and vitality. Our regression results reveal that artworks are more of a conspicuous consumption good in the Philippines. Reduced income and wealth after the stock market plunge in August 2015 led to lower willingness to pay for artworks and lower returns in the September 2015 auctions compared to the September 2014 auctions. The “poorer rich” effect appears to prevail over the alternative investment effect in the Philippines.
Khruba (venerable monks) have consistently played a meaningful role in local Buddhist communities of Northern Thai culture for generations. While today’s khruba continue to represent themselves as followers of Khruba Siwichai and Lan Na Buddhism, in fact over the past three decades they have flourished by adopting heterogeneous beliefs and practices in the context of declining influence of the sangha and popular Buddhism. In order to respond to social and cultural transformations and to fit in with different expectations of people, modern khruba construct charisma through different practices besides the obvious strictness in dhamma used to explain the source of khruba’s charisma in Lan Na Buddhist history. The ability to integrate local Buddhist traditions with the spirit of capitalism-consumerism and gain a large number of followers demonstrates that khruba is still a meaningful concept that plays a crucial role in modern Buddhist society, particularly in Thailand. By employing concepts of charisma, production of translocalities, and popular Buddhism and prosperity religion, it can be argued that khruba is steeped in local knowledge, yet the concept has never been linear and static. Modern khruba can be interpreted and consumed in many ways by diverse groups of people. This is also considered a key success of modern khruba and their proliferation during the past three decades in Thailand. Data were collected in 2015–16 through in-depth interviews and participatory observation as part of the author’s PhD dissertation at Chiang Mai University, Thailand.