Being and Becoming KachinHistories Beyond the State in the Borderworlds of Burma

Being and Becoming KachinHistories Beyond the State in the Borderworlds of Burma

Mandy Sadan

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780197265550

Publisher: British Academy


Since independence in 1948, Burma has suffered from many internal conflicts. One of the longest of these has been in the Kachin State, in the north of the country where Burma has borders with India to the west and China to the east. This book explores the origins of the armed movement that started in 1961 and considers why it has continued for so long. The book places the problems that have led to hostilities between the political heartland of Burma and one of its most important peripheries in a longer perspective than usual. It explains how the experience of globalisation and international geopolitics from the late eighteenth century onwards produced the local politics of exclusion and resistance. It also uses detailed ethnographic research to explore the social and cultural dynamics of Kachin ethno-nationalism, providing a rich analysis that goes beyond the purely political. This analysis also provides new insights on the work of Edmund Leach and recent representations of Zomia proposed by James C. Scott. The research draws upon an extensive range of sources, including archival materials in Jinghpaw and an extensive study of ritual and ritual language. Making a wide variety of cross-disciplinary observations, it explains in depth and breadth how a region such as the Kachin State came into being. When combined with detailed local insights into how these experiences contributed to the historical development of modern Kachin ethno-nationalism, the book encourages new ways of thinking about the Kachin region and its history of armed resistance.