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Title: Two Versions of Buddhist Karen History of the Late British Colonial Period in Burma: Kayin Chronicle (1929) and Kuyin Great Chronicle (1931)
Authors: Ikeda, Kazuto
Author's alias: 池田, 一人
Keywords: Karen
Burma (Myanmar)
Issue Date: Dec-2012
Publisher: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
Journal title: Southeast Asian Studies
Volume: 1
Issue: 3
Start page: 431
End page: 460
Abstract: The majority of the Karen people in Burma are in fact Buddhist, in spite of theirwidespread image as Christian, pro-British, anti-Burman, and separatist. In the lastdecade of British rule, two Buddhist interpretations of Karen history--virtually thefirst ethnic self-assertion by the Buddhist Karens--were published along with thefirst Christian version. Writing in Burmese for Burmese readers, the authors ofthese Buddhist versions sought to prove that the Karen were a legitimate people(lumyo) comparable to the Burman and Mon in the Buddhist world, with dynasticlineages of their own kingship (min) reaching back into the remote past, and a groupfaithful to their religious order (thathana). This linkage of ethnicity=kingship=religionwas presented in order to persuade skeptical readers who believed that the Karen,lacking the tradition of Buddhist min, were too primitive to constitute an authenticlumyo of the thathana world. Analysis of these texts will shed light on the socialformation of Karen identity among the Buddhists from the 1920s to the 1930s. Thiswill also lead us to consider the historical processes whereby the quasi-ethnic idiomsand logic innate to the Burmese-speaking world were transformed in the face ofmodern and Western notions of race and nation, and consequently the mutation ofBurma into an ethnically articulated society.
Appears in Collections:Vol.1 No.3

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