Andrew Alan Johnson received his PhD from Cornell University in 2010. He has taught at Columbia University, Princeton University, and Yale-NUS College, among other places. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of California-Berkeley, and a writer for Firaxis Games’s Civilization series. He is the author of Ghosts of the New City (2014) and Mekong Dreaming (2020).

Accidents and Agency: Death and Occult Economies in Thailand

With new economic regimes, new infrastructure, and increased ‘development’ also come new religious movements. Whereas earlier scholars assumed that modernity would disenchant, this has, time and again, proven not to be the case. But why? While one popular explanation—the ‘occult economy’—attributes this increasing (de-centred) religiosity to the vicissitudes of new economic regimes, this essay interprets it as an acknowledgement of a shared world in flux, with humans and nonhumans alike struggling to come to terms with what existing in a changed present might mean.

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