Organized Panel Session
Since the Myanmar state’s most recent bout of ethnic cleansing of its Rohingya minority captured international attention in September 2017, the Rohingya have become a new object of scholarly analysis. Emergent discourse has, however, largely cast the Rohingya genocide as separate, even deracinated, from the country’s ‘normal’ ethnic political struggles. Geographical, religio-racial, and legal differences, not to mention the scale of the violence have led analysts to mark Rohingya as exceptional. This panel takes the opposite perspective, exploring how genealogies of state-led violence shed light on the Rohingya case, even as that case clarifies and throws into relief historical and on-going bouts of violence against, inter alia, Wa, Rakhine, Kachin, and Karen ethnic peoples in the country. Putting these cases together allows for an exploration of various forms of violence, allowing a more complete picture of the Burmese state’s violent practices to emerge. Prasse-Freeman’s multi-sited ethnography shows how Rohingya identity refracts in diffuse ways in the face of mass violence and dispossession. Frydenlund and Wai Wai Nu explore how Rakhine and Rohingya women forge forms of sociality and solidarity that challenge dominant narratives of mutual animus between the ethnic groups. Ong looks at the case of the Wa, and how the emergence of ethnic armed groups sidelined other actors and subjects in ethnic politics in Myanmar. Imamura examines the Kachin Christian case to demonstrate how religious dimensions of ethnic conflict are accentuated by state violence. Ken Maclean brings his long-term experience with the Karen to bear on these comparative questions.