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Susanne Ryuyin Kerekes
Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Phone: (860) 297-4283 Office Location: McCook 212
Send e-mail to Susanne Ryuyin Kerekes
Trinity College faculty member since 2022
General ProfileTeachingResearchPublications/PresentationsHonors/Awards
Ph.D., Univ. of Pennsylvania
M.A., Mahidol Univ.
B.A., DePauw Univ.

Susanne Ryuyin Kerekes specializes in Buddhism and contemporary religious practice in Thailand, especially amulets and magic. Among her research interests include Buddhist art and architecture, 19th-century Thai manuscripts, Buddhist economics, Spiritual But Not Religious, and prosperity spirituality such as Pranic Healing. She is informed by theories and methods of material religion.

Titled Material Buddhists: Fashioning the Spiritual Economy of Thailand, Kerekes’s first book project overturns orientalist perspectives on Theravada Buddhism. It calls for a compelling suggestion to view Theravada Buddhists not merely as “orthodox”, “traditional”, “Pali-canon centered”, “textual”, or “meditation” minded practitioners, but rather as, what Kerekes dubs, material Buddhists. Her book introduces the entangled, inseparable material and spiritual economy in which Theravada Buddhists are engaged on a daily basis. Material Buddhists thus leads readers on an adventurous encounter showcasing how Thai Buddhist practice is largely influenced by relationships among practitioners, the material world (e.g., Buddhist statues, amulets, ritual offerings), and all things saksit (a Thai concept loosely translated as sacred).  
Additionally, she works alongside Dr. Jessica Zu (USC Dornsife) on a broader collaborative project they call, "Buddhism of the 99%". The project is motivated by three themes: Buddhism of the people, by the people, and for the people.  

Kerekes is a committee member of the Religion in Southeast Asia Unit with the American Academy of Religion (AAR). For the University of Pennsylvania’s Lauder Institute (Wharton School of Business, and School of Arts & Sciences), she serves as a faculty leader for the Lauder Intercultural Venture (LIV) program in Thailand. The cohort of dual-MBA-and-MA-degree students enrolled in her Thailand LIV explore various themes on Buddhism, for example business and material culture. Students also experience an intensive 24-hour meditation retreat.