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Ghosts of the New CitySpirits, Urbanity, and the Ruins of Progress in Chiang Mai$
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Andrew Alan Johnson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824839390

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824839390.001.0001

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The Broken Building

(p.1) Introduction
Ghosts of the New City

Andrew Alan Johnson

University of Hawai'i Press

Chiang Mai is a city inseparable from its significance as a Buddhist and animist center. Its premodern status as a mandala meant that it, in Theravada Buddhist cosmology, radiated out prosperity to the countryside, even as its neighborhoods were miniature mandalas governed by animist spirit shrines. These discourses parallel present-day ideas about the restorative power of culture. But within its sacred heart, Chiang Mai is crumbling. Broken buildings and the glut of cheap high-rise architecture raise concerns about not only social, but spiritual decline.

Keywords:   Culture, cities, sacrality, mandala, Thailand, animism, Buddhism

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