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Ref ID: 28286
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Kazuto Ikeda
Title: Two versions of Buddhist Karen history of the late British colonial period in Burma: <i>Kayin Chronicle</i> (1929) and <i>Kuyin Great Chronicle</i> (1931)
Date: 2012
Source: Southeast Asian Studies
Abstract: The majority of the Karen people in Burma are in fact Buddhist, in spite of their widespread image as Christian, pro-British, anti-Burman, and separatist. In the last decade of British rule, two Buddhist interpretations of Karen history—virtually the first ethnic self-assertion by the Buddhist Karens—were published along with the first Christian version. Writing in Burmese for Burmese readers, the authors of these Buddhist versions sought to prove that the Karen were a legitimate people(<i>lumyo</i>) comparable to the Burman and Mon in the Buddhist world, with dynastic lineages of their own kingship (<i>min</i>) reaching back into the remote past, and a group faithful to their religious order (<i>thathana</i>). This linkage of ethnicity=kingship=religion was presented in order to persuade skeptical readers who believed that the Karen, lacking the tradition of Buddhist min, were too primitive to constitute an authentic <i>lumyo</i> of the <i>thathana</i> world. Analysis of these texts will shed light on the social formation of Karen identity among the Buddhists from the 1920s to the 1930s. This will also lead us to consider the historical processes whereby the <i>quasi</i>-ethnic idioms and logic innate to the Burmese-speaking world were transformed in the face of modern and Western notions of race and nation, and consequently the mutation of Burma into an ethnically articulated society.
Date Created: 11/27/2013
Volume: 1
Number: 3
Page Start: 431
Page End: 460