AjiaShakaiBunka-Kenkyu_18_35.pdf 1.16 MB
Ethno-Knowledge of the Shan and Modernity
This paper aims to discuss how the Shan view their self-image and history and focuses on their concept of mäng in Shan/Tay or kuni in Japanese by comparing them with concept of 'nation' in a modern historical sense. Shan as an ethnic term was and is used to refer to Tai-language speaking people in Burma/Myanmar. Its origin and fabrication are ethnologically controversial. During the field research in Kachin State, the author came across a Shan intellectual acquaintance who narrated their own history not by referring their 'glory chiefdom' but by comparing it with that of the Bamar (Burmese): "We, the Shan have never founded a nation like the Bamar". According to some legendary stories, Mogaung (Mäng Kawng) located in the present Kachin State was one of the capital sites among the chiefdoms, having been founded by a legendary hero who came from Mäng Maaw. Mäng Maawis thought to be one of the earliest sites of the Shan in Burma/Myanmar. It is certain that the ethno-knowledge of the Shan was given a framework by Westerners including colonial officers (e.g.J.G. Scott), Christian missionaries (e.g.J.N. Cushing, who edited a Shan-English dictionary) and academics (e.g.E.R. Leach). These phases and their significance in social terms will be treated from the following aspects.
1) Shan and Tai/Tay as ethnic terms and their usage
2) Mäng in Shan and Pyi or Naing in Bamar
3) Ethno-knowledge and modernity
The abovementioned narrative seems to be influenced by not only the 'imagined glory chiefdom' but also the modern concept of 'nation'. The ethno-knowledge of the Shan was and is constructed and reconstructed through ethnic identity and discourse by themselves and intellectual influences originating in Western modernity.