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Conspiracy, God's Plan, and National Emergency: Kachin Popular Analyses of the Ceasefire Era and its Resource Grabs

Laur Kiik

No zw8yj, SocArXiv from Center for Open Science

Abstract: This chapter draws from periods of ethnographic field research in the Kachin region from 2010 to 2015, covering the lead up to the breakdown of the ceasefire and the discourses that emerged in relation to it subsequently. It therefore discusses in critical terms how large parts of Kachin society understand the ceasefire era and the reasons for its collapse in 2011. It focuses particularly on popular understandings of the large-scale resource grabs that defined much of that era. The chapter lays out a dominant Kachin nationalist-theoretical framework by discussing three core terms: Wunpawng Mungdan (territory/ ‘Kachin country’), Wunpawng myusha (people/ ‘Kachin nation’), and Karai Kasang (divinity/ Christian ‘God’). The chapter then tackles how Kachin nationalists deploy these terms in specific ways to understand their 1994-2011 ceasefire experiences; in doing so, they express ideas of ethno-national emergency, divine predestination, and ethnocidal conspiracy. These understandings guide many people in Kachin society to commit to resistance and the ethno-patriotic project of co-building a ‘land yet-to-be’, instead of engaging in a ceasefire based on compromise. Amid the current battles, anger and humanitarian crisis, the question of whether one wants ‘our Kachin nation’ to pursue full state independence or merely federal autonomy within Myanmar has become a sensitive and barely voiced debate inside Kachin society. While exploring these theories and popular analyses, this chapter steps into an open critical dialogue with Kachin nationalists themselves, suggesting ways in which these understandings are contradicted or complicated by other social realities. This is to draw a fuller, fairer, and more balanced picture of the complex social dynamics in this region. Simultaneously, the chapter cautions against the tendency to make homogenising claims about Burma’s minority ethnic nations, as if these were simple, monolithic entities rather than the internally diverse, class-stratified and complex societies that in fact they are. * See more at:

Date: 2017-08-05
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DOI: 10.31219/

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