A Corpse Necessitates Disentangled Relationships: Boundary Transgression and Boundary-Making in a Buddhist-Muslim Village in Southern Thailand



The primarily Theravada Buddhist area of mainland Southeast Asia and the primarily Sunni Islamic area of Insular Southeast Asia meet in Southern Thailand. One salient feature of Muslim–Buddhist relations on the west coast in this area is an extraordinarily high rate of intermarriage between Muslims and Buddhists. Muslims and Buddhists convert to the other faith and often convert back. This flexibility hardens, however, in attitudes and behavior towards corpses. The touching (tonrng) of those who are dead or dying seems critically significant in local Muslim–Buddhist relations. I will examine how relationships demonstrated in daily life motivate decisions connected with death. A corpse may necessitate disentangled relationships of daily life. This approach helps clarify the actual dynamics inherent in Muslim–Buddhist co-existence a Thai village.


Muslim–Buddhist intermarriage Death rituals Southern Thailand Boundary transgression Boundary-making 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and AfricaTokyo University of Foreign StudiesTokyoJapan

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