21. Andrew Alan Johnson: Ghost Mothers. Kinship Relationships in Thai Spirit Cults

Abstract

This paper examines the process of building kinship relations between Thai spirit devotees and violent spirits. I examine three spirit shrines on the outskirts of Bangkok: a shrine to the ghost of a woman killed in childbirth, a shrine to a cobra spirit that causes accidents along a busy highway, and a household shrine to an aborted fetus. The devotees to which I spoke actively sought out such places known for death in order to “adopt” or “become adopted by” such spirits, and, I argue here, this action allows for a re-negotiation of their position vis-à-vis accident and trauma. I suggest that becoming a spirit’s “child” forms a mutually dependent relationship, and through this relationship allows for the domestication of forces from outside the social.

ISSN 2196-6893

Forthcoming in Social Analysis 60(2): 2016   Andrew Alan Johnson: Ghost Mothers. Kinship Relationships in Thai Spirit Cults