Accommodating the discarnate: Thai spirit houses and the phenomenology of place

Pearce, Michael (2011) Accommodating the discarnate: Thai spirit houses and the phenomenology of place. Material Religion, 7 3: 344-372. doi:10.2752/175183411X13172844495939

Author Pearce, Michael
Title Accommodating the discarnate: Thai spirit houses and the phenomenology of place
Language of Title eng
Journal name Material Religion   Check publisher's open access policy
Language of Journal Name eng
ISSN 1743-2200
Publication date 2011-11
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.2752/175183411X13172844495939
Volume 7
Issue 3
Start page 344
End page 372
Total pages 19
Place of publication Berks, United Kingdom
Publisher Berg Publishers
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Abstract In Thailand, many homes possess small shrines for locality and guardian spirits. In Thai the shrines are known by various names denoting the ethereal occupants and their various spheres of influence. In English they are referred to collectively as "spirit houses." By exploring the ways in which these shrines are used by Thai people through two case studies, this article addresses the prevalence of spirit houses in contemporary urban locations, an area which scholarship on Thai popular religion has largely neglected. Based upon eighteen months of fieldwork in three Thai cities, the article argues that the ornate shrines which adorn many house compounds in contemporary urban Thailand tie into local understandings of the social character of places. It is suggested that the persistence of spirit houses can be partly understood through their roles as mediators of the phenomenological experience of certain places. Spirit houses are one part of a gathering process that imbues places with significant meaning. The shrines exemplify that culturally specific interactions and engagements with spirits associated with certain places influence how the phenomenological qualities of these places are constructed and experienced.
Keyword Spirit houses
Thai religion
Household shrines
Genius loci
Spirits of place
Phenomenology of places
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
School of Social Science Publications
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Created: Wed, 07 Mar 2012, 13:19:23 EST by Mr Michael Pearce on behalf of School of Social Science