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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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Rebuilding Lanna

Rebuilding Lanna

(p.129) 5 Rebuilding Lanna
Ghosts of the New City

Andrew Alan Johnson

University of Hawai'i Press

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.

Keywords:   Urban renewal, cities, local wisdom, Thailand, culture, Buddhism, architecture, city planning

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