Edoardo Siani

Position: Postdoctoral Fellow

MAIL: edosiani [at] cseas.kyoto-u.ac.jp

Research Departments

Political and Economic Coexistence


Social/Cultural Anthropology, Thai Studies, Southeast Asian Studies

Research Interests

Thai Buddhism and politics, Theory on kingship, Theory on sovereignty

 My current research project investigates notions of sovereign power in contemporary Buddhist Thailand. It draws from years of ethnographic research in Bangkok with religious practitioners like diviners (mo du) and spirit mediums (rang song) as well as ordinary individuals during an exceptional period in Thai history—the transition to a new reign. The project explores the hypothesis that sovereign power in Buddhist Thailand is understood as a divine substance, embodied in different quantities by different individuals. As sovereignty becomes contested in a period of transition, these individuals—religious practitioners and ordinary people alike—display their political aspirations by mastering idioms of Buddhist leadership. They thus signal their willingness to act as the bearers of sovereignty by drawing from and innovating on an existing model of leadership. From a theoretical perspective, this research brings classical works on power and cosmology in Southeast Asia into a dialogue with the scholarship on sovereignty.

  • Thai Body Politics: Sovereignty and the Body of the Citizen in Contemporary Thailand

  • Siani, Edoardo. 2017. The Eclipse of the Diviners: Sovereign Power and the Buddhist Cosmos at the End of Thailand’s Ninth Reign. PhD Thesis at SOAS, University of London.