6. May 2022 / 30 min

Deities and Divas

A conversation with Peter A. Jackson and Benjamin Baumann. Hosted by Julia Heinle from NIAS Press.

Queer Ritual Specialists in Myanmar, Thailand and Beyond

NIAS Press in conversation with Peter A. Jackson and Benjamin Baumann

How does queer life fit into Buddhism and ritual? What role do gay men and trans women play in the practice of spirit mediumship and how do queer spirit mediums mediate between Thailand’s religious fields? How can we understand the increasing numbers of queer spirit mediums across mainland Southeast Asia?

Peter A. Jackson and Benjamin Baumann provide important insights into their new book Deities and Divas, Queer Ritual Specialists in Myanmar, Thailand and Beyond (NIAS Press 2021). Deities and Divas is the first book to trace commonalities between queer and religious cultures in Southeast Asia and the West. The book details the very prominent roles that gay men and trans women are playing in the spirit medium cults rapidly growing in Myanmar, Thailand and beyond.

Visit the NIAS Press Webshop to find the book.

Peter A. Jackson is Emeritus Professor in Thai cultural history at the Australian National University. Over the past four decades, he has written extensively on religion, gender and sexuality in modern Thailand as well as critical approaches to Asian area studies. His ongoing research includes studying media and masculinity in Thai gay cultures and religion and ritual in Thai communities affected by HIV.

Benjamin Baumann is an assistant professor at the University of Heidelberg. His ethnographic work examines rural lifeworlds, socio-cultural identities and local language games in Thailand’s lower Northeast, focusing on how the ghostly structures the imagination, reproduction of social collectives and communal sentiments of belonging.

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