Buddhist Studies Review
Publisher PDF: the final published version of the article, with professional formatting and typesetting
Buddhist Studies | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
Throughout years of war and political upheaval, Buddhist women in Laos have devotedly upheld traditional values and maintained the practice of offering alms and other necessities to monks as an act of merit. In a religious landscape overwhelmingly dominated by bhikkhus (fully ordained monks), a small number have renounced household life and become maekhaos, celibate women who live as nuns and pursue contemplative practices on the periphery of the religious mainstream. Patriarchal ecclesiastical structures and the absence of a lineage of full ordination for women have combined to render the religious roles of Buddhist nuns and laywomen virtually invisible throughout most of Lao history. With limited access to Buddhist learning, maekhaos live at the margins of Lao society, both spatially and economically. Based on interviews gathered during fieldwork in Laos and at a Lao temple in California, this paper examines the lives of Lao Buddhist women, their relationship to religious authority, and ways they might move from the margins to full inclusion in Lao religious life.
Digital USD Citation
Tsomo, Karma Lekshe, "Lao Buddhist Women: Quietly Negotiating Religious Authority" (2010). Theology and Religious Studies: Faculty Scholarship. 14.