In the village of Sa Huỳnh, state, fishers, and Buddhist clergy draw from semiotic ideologies but often employ a common political language, rarely agreeing on its meaning. Highlighting different structural positions and goals of social actors, I argue that binary oppositions exist but are not mutually exclusive, ever-lasting or antagonistic, as they shift in unexpected ways across the triadic relationship between state officials, fishers, and Buddhist clergy. By exposing the extent of improvisation and legitimation tactics, I show that religious practices are co-produced locally by the state through its diverse agents and agencies, by religious reformers through their purifying discipline, and by various categories of villagers who use indiscipline as a local tactic when acting on behalf of their gods.

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