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Accepted Paper:

Vulnerability as Vernacular Resistance in the Borderlands of Thailand and Myanmar  
Alexander Horstmann (University of Bielefeld)

Paper short abstract:

My paper looks at silent, non-heroic acts of resistance of indigenous people from the Karen and Shan communities against the brutalities of the Myanmar state. In the center is the vulnerability of the ordinary people caught in this momentum, but also their resilience and creativity (Kulick).

Paper long abstract:

Based on a decade of ethnographic fieldwork in Eastern Myanmar, Northwest Thailand, and beyond, my paper looks at the silent, non-heroic acts of resistance of indigenous people from the Karen and Shan communities moving to Thailand and to the West from Myanmar to the development programs and violence from state agents, humanitarian agents, and capital investors who try to manage and contain them (Scott 1990). It describes the rural Angst (Turner 2009) that was produced in the semi-democratic (but authoritarian) period before the coup, the impact of modernization on the life of communities, and the increasing popular protest the devastating effects of resource exploitation on livelihood. The paper examines the mafia-style strategies of state agents that have only worsened after the coup, and the increasing “vernacular” resistance against the brutalities of the state. The paper also describes alternative ways of resource management by the Karen and Shan communities and the impact of modernization and social and military control on the livelihood of ordinary people and on their aspirations to make a living by connectivity over distance. “Vernacular” (Brković 2020) thus describes local and humanitarian efforts at the grassroots level as well as in the Diaspora to counter social separateness. In the center is the vulnerability of the ordinary people caught in this momentum, but also their resilience (Kulick).

Panel P130
Mobile Ideas of the Common(s). Forced Migrants’ transforming desired futures of political communalities. [AnthroMob]
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -