Ethnic Politics in Eighteenth-Century Burma

  • Lieberman V
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We commonly find in the literature on pre-colonial mainland Southeast Asia a tendency to treat the principal ethnic groups—Burmese, Mons, Siamese, Cambodians, Vietnamese—as discrete political categories. This tendency is particularly marked in the historiography of the Irrawaddy valley, where the recurrent north—south conflicts of the eleventh to the eighteenth centuries have usually been interpreted as ‘national’ or ‘racial’ struggles between the Burmese people of the north and the Mon, or Talaing, people of the south. In writing of the last major ‘Mon—Burmese’ war, that of 1740—57, historians have characterized the 1740 uprising at the southern city of Pegu as an expression of ‘Mon nationalism’. The ensuing conflict reportedly became a struggle between Mons and Burmese each ‘fighting for the existence of their race’

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  • Victor B Lieberman

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