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Being and Becoming KachinHistories Beyond the State in the Borderworlds of Burma$
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Mandy Sadan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265550

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265550.001.0001

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(p.361) 8 Virtue
Being and Becoming Kachin

Mandy Sadan

British Academy

This chapter considers the impact of conversion to Christianity among the Kachin peoples of Burma and the role that conflict has had in promoting Christianity as a principal ideological foundation for the social movement of Kachin ethno-nationalism. It challenges the perception that Christianity was a majority belief system before the late 1970s and explores some of the different social dynamics that produced this large-scale conversion beyond the colonial period. It also examines the boundaries between Christianity (specifically American Baptist doctrinal orthodoxies), Theravada Buddhism, and autochthonous belief systems to show how ideological perceptions of threats to the self and the community have been modelled by Kachin Christian ethno-nationalists within the Kachin Baptist Church. It then describes how the social prevalence of this belief system among Kachin youth has created significant shifts in comprehension of ‘Kachin’ history and society, which have also had a transformative effect upon modern Kachin ethno-nationalist ideologies.

Keywords:   Christianity, conversion, Theravada Buddhism, autochthonous religion, Baptist, youth, missions

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