Organized Panel Session
The term “Kachin” has been understood and used differently across disciplines, while its meaning and content has changed over time. From an anthropological and political perspective, “Kachin” is an emergent category referring to diverse speech communities which participate in a cultural complex tied in part through marriage relations. Linguistically, the languages under the category are not homogenous, nor is there one Kachin language. Jinghpaw (“Jingpo” in China or “Singpho” in Northeast India) has the largest community, but falls on a branch of the Tibeto-Burman family rather distant from the other Kachin languages Lhaovo (Maru), Lacid, and Zaiwa (Atsi), which are much closer to Burmese. Three other communities—Ngochang, Lisu, and Rawang—sometimes participate in the Kachin category, even though the last two are from distant braches.