Blog | March 2019, Max-Cam
Fieldnote 3: Buddhism, booming businesses and the ritual economy in urban Laos
by Patrice Ladwig
'Fieldnotes' is a new format that the Max Planck Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change is using to report first findings from the fieldwork that six postdocs are currently undertaking in Ghana, Istanbul, Vanuatu, Kerala, Laos and various Western capitals. They are unstructured narratives – just like the notes in every anthropologist’s notebook – presenting preliminary findings from the different projects.
When I first came to Laos for my PhD fieldwork in 2003, I asked the abbot of my monastery in central Vientiane for a copy the recent report of the yearly meeting of the Lao Buddhist Fellowship Organization. He replied that the resolutions and speeches had already been typed up, but that there was no funding to print the 200 page booklet. “This is the most important yearly meeting of the Lao Organization of Buddhists, and we don’t even have the money to print these booklets“. Displaying his usual good humor, he broke out into boisterous laughter. Visiting him and the monastery in February 2019, we discussed what had changed since 2003. Vientiane has become an utterly different city. ...