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The Buddha SideGender, Power, and Buddhist Practice in Vietnam$
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Alexander Soucy

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835989

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835989.001.0001

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Conspicuous Devotion and Devotional Distinctions

Conspicuous Devotion and Devotional Distinctions

(p.138) 7 Conspicuous Devotion and Devotional Distinctions
The Buddha Side

Alexander Soucy

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter looks at how the nonhierarchical aspect of Buddhism in Vietnam, especially when juxtaposed with the male structure of the communal house, does not provide an adequate understanding of the dynamics at work within the field. The communal house is regarded as the seat of village hierarchy par excellence, and by comparison the pagoda is egalitarian and relatively undifferentiated—albeit with status competition still existing in a more subtle form. The most obvious asymmetry of power and status in the pagoda is between men and women and is manifested most tangibly through seating arrangements. However, there is a more subtle form of competition that transpires through the conspicuous performances of devotion. These performances ultimately seek status through recognition in the pagoda community.

Keywords:   Vietnamese Buddhism, communal house, pagoda, egalitarian, status competition, devotional distinctions

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