Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Dr. Brooke Schedneck’s latest book is a monograph with the University of Washington Press titled Religious Tourism in Northern Thailand: Encounters with Buddhist Monks. Schedneck, having lived for eight years in Chiang Mai, a city of important cultural influence in Thailand, is an expert in this region. The book is based on her in-depth research into tourism, urbanization, and education as important factors transforming Chiang Mai’s temples.
Religious Tourism in Northern Thailand highlights the perspectives of student monks, who are an often understudied group within Buddhism. Because they are young and have not yet attained their degrees, their opinions are not often sought out. Yet, in more than 40 interviews with these monks, Schedneck found a range of innovative ideas concerning temple economics, missionaries, and globalization.
Each chapter of the book captures a facet of Chiang Mai temples' navigation through tourism and urbanization. Schedneck also includes an investigation of volunteer tourism and the possibilities for self-transformation for those travelers who engage more deeply with temple life.
This is the first ethnography of Buddhism in Chiang Mai, and reveals the results of opportunities for cultural exchange and how religious traditions adapt to an era of globalization.
Susan Darlington, author of The Ordination of a Tree: The Thai Buddhist Environmental Movement, says, “This provocative book challenges stereotypical approaches to the study of Thai Buddhism and especially to who the monks themselves are.”