Accepted Paper:

Christian Baptist utopian religiosity among Karen refugees in the Thailand-Burma borderland  
Alexander Horstmann (FAU Erlangen-N├╝rnberg)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is about the legitimicy and discourse of justice among Karen Christians in the Thailand-Burma borderland and the interpretation of their struggle as a religious one.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I would like to draw on my research on the expression of Christian Baptist religiosity in Karen refugee camps across the Thialand-Burma border. The suffering of the Karen in the Burma war zone provides the background for a powerful narrative of Karen Baptists to mobilize Karens Christians for "the struggle" of the Karen angels against the Burmese devil as well as international solidarity networks. Unable to win a dirty war by military means, the Karens draw on utopian Christianity to close the wounds of the past and raise hope for the future. From Thailand, the Karen Christians re-organize themselves in utopian Christian communities to re-enter Burma and provide humanitarian assistance as well as spiritual guidance to the internally displaced people and the wounded. They interpret the spiritual warfare as blessing in disguise and God's mysterious plan to save the Karen and prepare them for heaven. The paper will illustrate this from ethnographic fieldwork in various spaces in the Thailand-Burma borderland.

Panel W002
Wounding, meaning, being: managing experience, knowledge and time in contemporary religiosity