It offers a relentless repudiation of those saccharine tropes through which Thailand has mainly been read.
This book is an important contribution to the ongoing critique and dialogue in anthropology. There are few interventions into Western theory that have been as productive as this breathtaking endeavor.
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Princeton University Press, 2002.
Klima discusses changes in neoliberal Thailand, globalization of economy and how the influx of the West changed people on the ground. Also consider: were the status symbols used for display? Bourdieu say that people can consciously strategize to adopt the particular class symbols of a certain class habitus. What is the atmosphere with the funeral casino? You’re keeping the corpse company because the deceased is unaware that he/she is dead yet. This compares to the funeral market that developed around the hunger strike activist. People aren’t gambling terribly conservatively in the funeral casino, eating, drinking – carnivalistic atmosphere (carnival normal rules of custom are suspended for particular time and place, orgiastic sense). Klima mentions the potlatch – give away more and more to others, even the destruction of property. Bataille and Benjamin will never seem the same
These identifications are based on appearance, personal proclivities, and dreams around the time the child was born rebirth. I then provide some background information on Shan in Maehongson Province.
The Funeral Casino is a heretical ethnography of the global age. Setting his book within Thailand's pro-democracy movement and the street massacres that accompanied it, Alan Klima offers a strikingly original interpretation of mass-mediated violence through a study of funeral gambling and Buddhist meditation on death.
The fieldwork for the book began in 1992, when a freewheeling market of illegal "massacre-imagery" videos blossomed in Bangkok on the very site where, days earlier, for the third time in two decades, a military-controlled government had killed scores of unarmed pro-democracy protesters. Such killings and their subsequent representation have lent force to Thailand's transition from military control to a "media-financial complex." Probing the ways in which death is marketed, visualized, and remembered through practices both local and global, Klima inverts conventional relationships between ethnography and theory through a compelling narrative that reveals a surprising new direction available to anthropology and critical theory.
Ethnography here engages with the philosophy of activism and the politics of memory, media representation of violence, and globalization. In focusing on the particular array of tactics in Thai Buddhism and protest politics for connecting death and life, past and present, this book unveils a vivid and haunting picture of community, responsibility, and accountability in the new world order.