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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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(p.71) 3 Mediums
Ghosts of the New City

Andrew Alan Johnson

University of Hawai'i Press

In Chiang Mai’s neighborhoods, a model of Northern Thai sacred urbanity plays out in miniature: shrines to Buddhist/animist guardian spirits that promise prosperity and peace to their local communities via the idioms of khwam charoen, progress, and barami, charismatic power. These act as a counterweight to fears about the decline of progress and spread of malevolent spirits. Spirit mediums themselves perform an impressive variety of modes of mediumship, from traditional neighborhood-based spirits to nationalist-inspired warrior-kings, each one adapting to a certain conception of power and its workings.

Keywords:   Mediumship, animism, Buddhism, urbanity, Thailand, barami, charisma, spirits, progress, nationalism

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