Organized Panel Session
Patterns of ethnic identification and mobilization have long informed and transformed national and subnational politics as well as warfare and ceasefires in Myanmar. However, with some important exceptions, the fundamental category of “ethnicity” and the contested nature of its meaning in politics, war and peace is rarely challenged in in academic prosebut especially in popular rhetoric in and on Myanmar. This panel problematizes the category of ethnicity by examining the processes of ethnic boundary-making and ethnic rallying around symbols, “others,” ceasefires and historiographies. Papers include an emphasis on an understudied phenomenon: the relationships between dominant and smaller ethnic communities. Identity construction is considered throughout the papers via histories of contested interactions that leverage language, symbols, religion, economic transactions, hybrid political orders and militarism. Based on extensive, original field and archival research, the papers account for the historical and contemporary proliferation of ethnically defined political, cultural and armed groups, while at the same time exploring the contingency and fluidity of the categories and content of “ethnicity” in the realm of politics, war and peace.