Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Who's who in Southeast Asia.

As stated elsewhere on this blog, Burma (Myanmar) is a very complex country. It has over a hundred languages and multiple ethnic groups.

Many of these ethnic groups overlap with those of bordering countries. Due to their obscurity, these groups often have multiple names. In fact, defining the ethnicity of some groups in this region is surprisingly complex and to many of the people who we outsiders with an interest in the region consider to be linked or similiar do not see one another as terribly connected. Karen nationalism, for instance, did not exist prior to contact with the Western world and probably grew largely out of this interaction.

However, it is indisputable that some of thse groups have representatives on both sides of the border between China and Burma.

Therefore here's a quick guide

GROUP

BURMESE NAME == CHINESE NAME
------------------------------------------------------
Wa = Wa
Kachin = Jin Po
Shan = Dai
Chin = Yi (Lolo)
Karen = Zheng

Source: Personal communication from a Cornell Anthropology Graduate Student who, honestly, was speaking without consulting their books or sources.

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