Nang Nak—Ghost Wife: Desire, Embodiment, and Buddhist Melancholia in a Contemporary Thai Ghost Film
2016. "Nang Nak—Ghost Wife: Desire, Embodiment, and Buddhist Melancholia in a Contemporary Thai Ghost Film", Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema, Arnika Fuhrmann
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Chapter 1 elucidates the concept of Buddhist melancholia, showing how in Nonzee Nimibutr’s 1999 heritage film, Nang Nak, desire and sexual personhood are rendered in the idioms of Buddhist pedagogies and economies of desire. Examining how the core Buddhist trope of the negativity of female embodiment works in present-day cinema and policy, this analysis of Nang Nak interrogates the relations of haunting to historical injury and repair. The chapter shows how new forms of cinematic representation take recourse to Buddhism and parallel the ways in which sexual and economic sufficiency policies draw on Buddhist concepts. Thus the trope of Buddhist melancholia furnishes a convention that in mainstream film figures nationalist heteronormativity. This chapter demonstrates how the temporal incongruity of haunting can be made available to feminist interpretation. When Buddhist stories highlight the difficulty of giving up attachment they also become counterdoctrinal and highlight the persistence of women’s desires.