The gendered politics of spiritual authority in Thai Buddhism: Voice, subjectivity, and recognition in the movement for female monastic ordination


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies




This project investigates how Thai Buddhist female monks (bhikkhuni) make claims to local, national, and international belonging through voicing Buddhist teachings (dhamma desana) and chant (suat mon) in live settings and on social media platforms including Facebook and YouTube. Drawing upon sound and voice studies, I ask how bhikkhuni alter liberal feminist discourses of “having a voice” in the context of Buddhist philosophies of sound that emphasize the efficacious rather than representational power of the monastic voice. Over ten months of fieldwork at two bhikkhuni monasteries—Songdhammakalyani in Nakhon Pathom and Nirodharam in Chiang Mai—I follow the different meanings that voice and voicings take as they circulate widely from local lay communities to international online audiences.