This preview shows page 131 - 133 out of 374 pages.
Chanthathong, age 66, male, married, who serves as a secretary of Gongpown sub-district administrative committee in Gonpown sub-district of Nathan minor-district in Ubonratchatani province. Chanthathong verbalized: When we are considering doing something significant, we need to consult with the elders of our kin group because we respect them. With respect to converting to another religion such as Christianity, they certainly will not be in agreement (trans. from the Thai by the author).139The Isan realize the consequences of not listening to the counsel of the kin group elders who are responsible for the kin group’s welfare and happiness. The negative sanctions against an entire household because a single member of that 135Chansamone Saiyasak, “The Three Fears of the Isan People,” Sermon on Sunday morning at Mekong Church Nonprasert, 17 September 2006. 136Piker, A Peasant Community, 152. 137Fordham, “Protestant Christianity and the Transformation of Northern Thai Culture,” 5. 138Warawut Namsaena, Bok villager, Nathan minior-district, Ubonratchatani province, Thailand, interview by author, 14 August 2006. 139Naipat Chanthathong, Secretary to the Gongpown Sub-District Administrative Committee and village elder of Nachoom village, Nathan minior-district, Ubonratchatani province, Thailand, interview by author, 13 August 2006.
-107- household is not acting in conformity to the kin group’s norms can include discontinuation of protection, economic and labor support, and termination of relationships. Other kin groups in the village communities are also often advised of the negative sanctions. As a result, the sanction devastates one’s livelihood, especially during times when support from the kinsmen is essential. In this regard, Potter noted: During a life crisis, such as marriage, ordinations, and funerals, one’s bilateral kindred always come to help. Whenever it is necessary to build a new house, members of one’s kindred will be the first people to offer assistance. In times of illness, scandal, or some other dreadful occurrence, one’s uncles and aunts and cousins all come to visit and offer support.140As a result, the Isan villagers continue to live with the mental attitude that “any man in the village is not alone. He has a moral claim on his friends and a large number of relatives to help or protect him.”141More importantly, the Isan villagers define a kin group as individuals related by blood or marriage under a common ancestral spirit. This delegates the intimate relationships and subordination to the control of the spirit. The intimate relationships include primarily the bilateral kinsmen. The importance of the bilateral kinsmen is described by Potter: Outside one’s immediate family, the members of one’s bilateral kindred are the people to whom one owes the greatest respect, affection, mutual support and cooperation. These are the closest relatives one has; and they are much closer than unrelated neighbors or fellow villagers in general.