A Review of Nirvana for Sale by Rachelle M. Scoot Essay

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Nirvana for Sale by Rachelle M. Scott is an anthropological investigation into the intersection of wealth and piety in Thailand Theravada Buddhism. Through ethnographic methods, the book seeks to describe this relationship in a historically situated context. Thus, the book is concerned with cultural praxis within the context of religious discourses about wealth and piety.
As a piece of ethnography, the work is competent, but draws little attention to the classic anthropological methodology of participant observation, characterized by long-term engagement with local cultural practices. Instead the claims made are gathered through an analysis of publications and dialogues within the Thailand Buddhist community, mostly centered on a
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Nirvana for Sale by Rachelle M. Scott is an anthropological investigation into the intersection of wealth and piety in Thailand Theravada Buddhism. Through ethnographic methods, the book seeks to describe this relationship in a historically situated context. Thus, the book is concerned with cultural praxis within the context of religious discourses about wealth and piety.
As a piece of ethnography, the work is competent, but draws little attention to the classic anthropological methodology of participant observation, characterized by long-term engagement with local cultural practices. Instead the claims made are gathered through an analysis of publications and dialogues within the Thailand Buddhist community, mostly centered on a controversy surrounding fundraising methods for the construction of the Dhammakaya Temple and situated within the socio-historical context of Thailand’s changing economic climate throughout the later half of the Twentieth Century. This socio-historical situation is fitting for a work that seeks to illuminate and elucidate the discursive tradition of Theravada Buddhism in Thailand.
This is accomplished by examining Thailand’s Theravada Buddhism through several different analytical frameworks. First, Scott examines “discourses on wealth and piety” within “specific historical and cultural contexts” in order to demonstrate “the dynamic character of Buddhist renunciation” (17). Then she provides us with a history of the Dhammakaya temple ranging
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