In the wake of economic and political crisis, urban planners and architects seized upon elements, reclassified as “local wisdom”, taken from Northern Thai texts and popular religious practice in order to renew the city. In this way, they parallel the activities of spirit mediums in seeking an otherworldly, charismatic source of prosperous potential, potential in need of reinterpretation and reintegration. In these cases, planners fused Buddhist conceptions of khwam charoen with present-day understandings borrowing heavily from a developmentalist ethos. As such, Lanna, in these concepts, becomes a place of desire, an idealized past out of which to construct an idealized future, in order to escape the ruinous present.
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