Khmer8

25.12.2017 4 Comments

John Holt s new book brings this fascinating nation into focus. For students of Vietnamese history, food here provides a lens into how people of different class and ethnic backgrounds struggled to adapt first to Vietnamese and then French imperialism. Most often studied as a part of Thai, Vietnamese, or Khmer history, Laos remains a terra incognita to most Westerners and to many of the people living throughout Asia as well. Food historians will find a provocative case study arguing that food does not simply reveal identity but can also help scholars analyze people's changing ambitions. Once the French conquered the country, new opportunities for culinary experimentation became possible, although such experiences were embraced more by the colonized than the colonizers. The enduring influence of traditional spirit cults in Lao culture and society has brought about major changes in how the figure of the Buddha and the powers associated with Buddhist temples and reliquaries indeed how all ritual spaces and times have been understood by the Lao. The rising new urban classes at the turn of the twentieth century also discovered new perspectives on food and drink, delighting in unfamiliar snacks or giving elaborate multicultural banquets as a form of conspicuous consumption. Not only have the spirits resisted eradication, but they have withstood synthesis, subordination, and transformation by Buddhist political and ecclesiastical powers.

Khmer8


Holt advances the provocative argument that common Lao knowledge of important aspects of Theravada Buddhist thought and practice has been heavily conditioned by an indigenous religious culture dominated by the veneration of phi, spirits whose powers are thought to prevail over and within specific social and geographical domains. Most often studied as a part of Thai, Vietnamese, or Khmer history, Laos remains a terra incognita to most Westerners and to many of the people living throughout Asia as well. John Holt s new book brings this fascinating nation into focus. Rather than reduce Buddhist religious culture to a set of simple commonalities, Holt takes a comparative approach, using his nearly thirty years experience with Sri Lanka to elucidate what is unique about Lao Buddhism. Not only have the spirits resisted eradication, but they have withstood synthesis, subordination, and transformation by Buddhist political and ecclesiastical powers. For students of Vietnamese history, food here provides a lens into how people of different class and ethnic backgrounds struggled to adapt first to Vietnamese and then French imperialism. With its overview of Lao Buddhism and analysis of how shifting political power from royalty to democracy to communism has impacted Lao religious culture, the book offers an integrated account of the entwined political and religious history of Laos from the fourteenth century to the contemporary era. New tastes prompted people to reconsider their preferences and their position in the changing modern world. Food historians will find a provocative case study arguing that food does not simply reveal identity but can also help scholars analyze people's changing ambitions. Vietnamese villagers began to see the power they could bring to bear on the state by mobilizing around such controversies in everyday life. What people ate reflected not just who they were, but also who they wanted to be. This book discusses how colonialism changed the taste of Vietnamese fish sauce and rice liquor and shows that state intervention made those products into tangible icons of a unified Vietnamese cuisine, under attack by the French. The enduring influence of traditional spirit cults in Lao culture and society has brought about major changes in how the figure of the Buddha and the powers associated with Buddhist temples and reliquaries indeed how all ritual spaces and times have been understood by the Lao. The rising new urban classes at the turn of the twentieth century also discovered new perspectives on food and drink, delighting in unfamiliar snacks or giving elaborate multicultural banquets as a form of conspicuous consumption. Once the French conquered the country, new opportunities for culinary experimentation became possible, although such experiences were embraced more by the colonized than the colonizers. This stimulating book invites students in the fields of the history of religion and Buddhist and Southeast Asian studies to take a fresh look at prevailing assumptions and perhaps reconsider the place of Buddhism in Laos and Southeast Asia. Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam starts with the spread of Vietnamese imperial control from south to north, marking the earliest efforts to create a common Vietnamese culture, as well as resistance to that cultural and culinary imperialism. Despite vigorous attempts by Buddhist royalty, French rationalists, and most recently by communist ideologues to eliminate the worship of phi, spirit cults have not been displaced; they continue to persist and show no signs of abating.

Khmer8


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4 thoughts on “Khmer8”

  1. This book discusses how colonialism changed the taste of Vietnamese fish sauce and rice liquor and shows that state intervention made those products into tangible icons of a unified Vietnamese cuisine, under attack by the French.

  2. Food historians will find a provocative case study arguing that food does not simply reveal identity but can also help scholars analyze people's changing ambitions.

  3. Not only have the spirits resisted eradication, but they have withstood synthesis, subordination, and transformation by Buddhist political and ecclesiastical powers. With its overview of Lao Buddhism and analysis of how shifting political power from royalty to democracy to communism has impacted Lao religious culture, the book offers an integrated account of the entwined political and religious history of Laos from the fourteenth century to the contemporary era.

  4. Not only have the spirits resisted eradication, but they have withstood synthesis, subordination, and transformation by Buddhist political and ecclesiastical powers.

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