Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Steven M. Vose

First Advisor's Committee Title

Major Professor

Second Advisor's Name

Christine Gudorf

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Oren Stier

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


Arts and Humanities, Buddhist Studies, Ethics in Religion, Histories of Religions of Eastern Origins, Religion

Date of Defense



This thesis examines the position of Buddhist nuns (thila-shins) in contemporary Burmese society. The Sangha, a branch of the Burmese state, has disallowed them from seeking full ordination as bhikkhunis. Based on interviews and observations conducted in Myanmar in June-July 2015, the thesis examines the current socioeconomic status of thila-shins using a transnational feminist framework. It argues that Burmese Buddhist nuns are not simply passive victims of a patriarchal structure, but agents and actors within their own spaces who have their own agendas. The central questions are: How do thila-shins understand their social, economic, and religious position? How does ordination status affect thila-shins? Is barring thila-shins from seeking full ordination ethical according to Buddhist texts? Special emphasis is given to a rereading of traditional Buddhist doctrine on the issue of reviving full ordination for Buddhist nuns in light of concerns regarding agency present in Third World feminist movements.





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