By Claudio Delang

The Karen are one of many significant ethnic minority teams within the Himalayan highlands, residing predominantly within the border zone among Thailand and Burma. because the biggest ethnic minority in Thailand, they've got usually been in clash with the Thai majority. This booklet is the 1st significant ethnographic and anthropological examine of the Karen for over a decade and appears at such key concerns as heritage, ethnic id, spiritual switch, the influence of presidency intervention, schooling land administration and gender family.

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Extra resources for Living at the Edge of Thai Society: The Karen in the Highlands of Northern Thailand (Routledgecurzon Studies on South East Asia)

Sample text

Hill peoples consequently find little place within the life of the nation, particularly as the term itself has come to denote socio-political deviance from Thai society within the ‘them-us’ dichotomy. In an article written by a prominent Constructing marginality 31 columnist of Thai Rath newspaper, Doi Dokphin (Mountain of poppy flowers), the results of a ‘development’ programme introduced to the Karen at Ban Mae Haw, Mae Sariang district, Mae Hong Son province were presented as so disappointing that ‘Over the 10 years since the establishment of the Hill Tribe Centre for Development and Welfare, 27 households [of Mae Ho village] still remain chao khao’ (Thai Rath, 17 November 1973).

For Dr Buergin the Karen are trapped by an external discourse on the environment, which reinforces the underlying politic of exclusion. For those who over the years have witnessed the summary, scattered attacks on hill tribe people like the unsuspecting Akha communities, who were rounded up, their villages burnt and their inhabitants placed in the backs of trucks and unceremoniously dumped on the Burmese border in 1988, or the invasion of Hmong villages and the 20 John McKinnon involuntary resettlement of the Hmong villagers from Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in 1986, Dr Buergin provides a very civilized way of talking about the unacceptable.

Then Phraya Wachiraprakan wrote a letter and arranged 30 sets of fine dishware coupled with a piece of silk cloth for Khun Michue to give as a gift to Kang Saeng Luang, the outpost Karen chief of the western bank of the Khong (Salween) River. Yang Kang Saeng Luang agreed to give obeisance. (Praya (1961), Yonok Chronicle : 452–453, author’s translation) During the reign of Prince Kawila, in which kep phak sai sa, kep kha sai muang (‘gather vegetables into baskets, gather subjects into domains’) was the most important policy with respect to strengthening the Lanna Kingdom, the strategic means of controlling peripheral polities was the initiation of autonomous tributary relationships (Saratsawadi 1996: 338–339).

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