Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma
edited by Mikael Gravers
304 pp., illustrated
NIAS Studies in Asian Topics # 39
Available from NIAS Press worldwide
• Goes beyond the image of human rights abuses in Burma to probe the country’s many ethnic and religious conflicts
• The most comprehensive and detailed study ever of huge variety of ethnic groups living in Burma
• An important contribution to the study of formation of ethnic identity, boundaries and space
While the image of modern Myanmar/Burma tends to be couched in human rights terms - and especially of a heroic Aung San Suu Kyi opposing an oppressive military regime - in reality there are several conflicts with ethnic and religious dimensions, as well as political and ideological differences between the opposition and the ruling military regime. This is not surprising in a country where 30% of the population and much of the land area are non-Burman, and where contradictory tendencies towards regional separatism versus unitary rule have divided the people since before independence.
In what is probably the most comprehensive study of Burma’s ethnic minorities to date, this volume discusses the historical formation of ethnic identity and its complexities in relation to British colonial rule as well as to the modern State, the present situation of military rule and its policy of ‘myanmarfication’. Changes of identity in exile and due to religious conversion are analysed and discussed.
Finally, the book deals with relevant and recent anthropological and sociological theoretical discussions on the ethnic identity, boundaries and space of all the main ethnic groups in Burma. It probes into the complexity and diversity and it provides more details and up-to-date information than previously collected in one volume.
Introduction: Ethnicity against the State - State against Ethnic Diversity?
Constructing and Contesting the Category 'Kachin' in the Colonial and post-Colonial Burmese State
Respahing Karenni-ness in Exile: Education, Nationalism and Being in the Wider World
Some Remarks upon Ehtnicity Theory and Southeast Asia, with Special Reference to the Kayah and the Kachin
Mapping the Kachin Political Landscape: Constructing, Contesting and Crossing Borders
Ceasefires and Civil Society: The Case of the Mon
Who Are the Shan? An Ethnological Perspective
Christianity and Chin Identity
Conversion and Identity: Religion and the Formation of Karen Ethnic Identity in Burma
Since 1970-1972 he has conducted ethnographic fieldwork among the Karen ethnic group in Thailand (and Burma). The first fieldwork in Uthaithani and Kanchanaburi provinces was among the Buddhist Pwo Karen (Ga Ploung) and he speaks a proficient Pwo. He has visited this area numerous times and since 1999 also conducted fieldwork among Christian and Buddhist Sgaw (Pgha G’Nyau) and Pwo in Chiang Mai and Lamphun provinces as well as among Karen refugees from Burma. His work on Burma is mainly based on archival research in the Oriental & India Office Collections, The British Library and Public Record Office, Kew in London. He has met with ethnic leaders from the Karen National Union and other ethnic organizations.
From 1999 to 2001 Mikael Gravers was the director of the anthropological part of the interdisciplinary Thai-Danish environmental research project Forest & People in Thailand.He has published on subjects such as ethnicity, nationalism; religion and politics; notions of nature and environment in Burma and Thailand.
Mikael Gravers has been a Nordic and European scholar in NIAS and received a grant from HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark’s Fund. Danish media often request his analysis of events in Burma and Thailand.
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