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The ‘Soul' of the Tai Re-Examined: The Khwan Concept and Tham Khwan Ceremony of the Tai-Speaking Peoples

Author :  Barend Jan Terwiel, Benjamin Baumann (Ed)

Product Details

Galda Verlag, Germany
ISBN 9783962032975
Format PaperBack
Language English
Year of Publication 2023
Bib. Info xxvi, 278p.
Product Weight 550 gms.
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Product Description

Khwan is certainly one of the most enigmatic concepts one encounters in the study of the Tai-speaking world. Variously rendered as ‘soul’, ‘vital principle’ or ‘life essence’, the concept eludes unambiguous translations as Western ontologies and the languages that reproduce them simply lack an analogous signifier. While a lot has been written on khwan, it seems that little progress was made in understanding their place in Tai conceptualisations of personhood and sociality. One reason for this may be that authors addressing khwan in their scholarship are frequently referring to the same seminal publications while ignoring others. This fostered a quasi-canonical understanding of what khwan are that is rarely critically scrutinised. With this edited volume we seek not only to honour Barend Jan (Baas) Terwiel, but also to problematise this conventional understanding of what khwan are. In the field of Tai Studies, Baas’ name stands out as a beacon of knowledge and understanding, illuminating the rich tapestry of Thailand’s history, culture, and society. Through meticulous scholarship and a profound love for the subject, Baas has left an indelible mark on the field, enriching our understanding of Thailand in ways that go beyond the surface. Join us on a journey through texts Baas has written over 50 years in order to explore what khwan are and how Tai-speakers all over the Tai-speaking world interact with them in order to strengthen their well-being and maintain personhood. Our goal with this volume is to make Baas scholarship on khwan more easily available and thus to celebrate his remarkable contributions to the world of Tai Studies. Therefore, we have edited, commented, and streamlined his original and sometimes hard to find texts and ordered them in a way that allows readers to better understand khwan as well as their similarities and differences all over the Tai-speaking world.

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