Prai Literacy Practices for a Spirit Audience

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F. Jason Diller


This study examines Prai literacy practices where spirits are the primary target audience. In Thailand, the Prai are an Austro-Asiatic ethnic minority group with both long-established literacy practices mediated by non-traditional texts as well as recently introduced traditional literacy practices with customary texts. Ethnographic research methods including participant observation and interviews were employed. Research highlights seven distinct literacy practices that attend to spirits: collecting specific objects as texts, weaving bamboo symbols, wrapping a token food gift, tying strings, tattooing, and writing and singing Prai songs. Findings show that these literacy practices communicate primary messages in three categories: a) to protect against spirits, b) to petition good from spirits, and c) to honor a spirit. In addition, traditional conceptions of literacy call for the use of literacy brokers to protect against spirits but more recent literacy practices are open to non-specialists to honor a spirit.


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How to Cite
Diller, F. J. (2020). Prai Literacy Practices for a Spirit Audience. Journal of Mekong Societies, 16(2), 1–22. Retrieved from