Contributor(s)University of Melbourne Early Career Researcher Grant
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AbstractThis paper addresses the ambiguous position of the largest group of Buddhist renunciant women in Thailand today, the mae chii. It provides a brief historical overview of the position of renunciant women in Buddhism more generally before taking up the case of the mae chii. While the mae chii are often represented as subordinate women who are suppressed by the current legal and religious systems in Thailand, this paper attempts to offer a different reading of their current position through the lens of Georgio Agamben’s notion of homo sacer. The paper draws on research literature and interviews undertaken in 2007 and 2008 to make the case that it is possible to not only see “mae chii” as a submissive category but as a subversive one too.