“We Owe a Historical Debt to No One”

The Reappropriation of Photographic Images from a Museum Collection

in Museum Worlds
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Brighton h.mears@brighton.ac.uk
Restricted access

ABSTRACT

A collection of photographs by colonial officer and amateur anthropologist James Henry Green now in the collections of Brighton Museum & Art Gallery has been extensively reappropriated and reused by members of the Kachin community from northern Burma who originally formed their subject. This article considers one specific use, in a music track and video produced as part of a collaboration between a Burma-based Kachin rap artist and a Kachin singer and media producer currently living in China. Released at a critical moment for the Kachin community, following the recent breakdown of a long-standing cease-fire agreement between the Kachin Independence Organization and the Burmese government, the track and video reveal some of the tensions at play between the outward-looking, transnational, and cosmopolitan tendencies of the growing overseas Kachin community and the nostalgic, territorially based ethnonationalism that has been at the heart of Kachin demands for greater political autonomy since the 1960s.

Contributor Notes

HELEN MEARS is Keeper of World Art at Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, and a doctoral student at the University of Brighton. Her doctoral research focuses on the cultural practices of overseas Kachin communities. Her broader research interests concern museums, museum ethnography, coproduction, migration, and diaspora. E-mail: h.mears@brighton.ac.uk

Museum Worlds

Advances in Research

  • Basu, Paul, and Ferdinand De Jong. 2016. “Utopian Archives, Decolonial Affordances: Introduction to Special Issue.” Social Anthropology 24 (1): 519.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baud, Michiel, and Willem Van Schendel. 1997. “Toward a Comparative History of Borderlands.” Journal of World History 8 (2): 211242.

  • Bird, S. Elizabeth. 2011. “Are We All Produsers Now?Cultural Studies 25 (4–5): 502516.

  • Brinkerhoff, Jennifer M. 2009. Digital Diasporas: Identity and Transnational Engagement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Clifford, James. 1992. “Traveling Cultures.” In Cultural Studies, ed. Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula Treichler, 96116. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clifford, James. 1994. “Diasporas.” Cultural Anthropology 9 (3): 302338.

  • Crane, Susan A. 2013. “The Pictures in the Background: History, Memory and Photography in the Museum.” In Memory and History: Understanding Memory as Source and Subject, ed. Joan Tumblety, 123140. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dean, Karin. 2016. “The Spatiality and Borderless-ness of Contentious Politics: Kachin Mobilities as Capability.” In Myanmar’s Mountain and Maritime Borderscapes: Local Practices, Boundary-making and Figured Worlds, ed. Su-Ann Oh, 215236. Singapore: ISEAS—Yusof Ishak Institute.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dell, Elizabeth, ed. 2000a. Burma Frontier Photographs 1918–1935. London: Merrell.

  • Dell, Elizabeth. 2000b. “Mapping Burma: The James Henry Green Collection of Photographs.” In Dell 2000a: 927.

  • Erikson, Thomas Hylland. 2006. “Nations in Cyberspace.” Ernest Gellner lecture delivered at the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism conference, London School of Economics, 27 March. http://www.philbu.net/media-anthropology/eriksen_nationscyberspace.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Farrelly, Nicholas. 2016a. “Democracy’s Kachin Dance.” Myanmar Times, 11 January.

  • Farrelly, Nicholas. 2016b. “Should Ethnicity Be Reconsidered?Myanmar Times, 16 May.

  • Gravers, Mikael, ed. 2007. Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma. Copenhagen: NIAS Press.

  • Green, James Henry. 1934. “The Tribes of Upper Burma North of 24 Degrees Latitude and Their Classification.” PhD diss., University of Cambridge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hall, Stuart. 1996a. “The Formation of a Diasporic Intellectual: An Interview with Stuart Hall by Kuan-Hsing Chen.” In Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, ed. D. Morley and C.-H. Chen, 484503. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hall, Stuart. 1996b. “New Ethnicities.” In Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies, ed. David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen, 441449. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hall, Stuart. 2001. “Constituting an Archive.” Third Text 15 (54): 8992.

  • Hannerz, Ulf. 1996. Transnational Connections: Culture, People, Places. New York: Routledge.

  • Hannerz, Ulf. 1990. “Cosmopolitans and Locals in World Culture.” Theory Culture Society 7 (2): 237251.

  • IDMC (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre). 2015. “Myanmar IDP Figure Analysis.” Updated as of March 2015. http://www.internal-displacement.org/south-and-south-east-asia/myanmar/figures-analysis.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kachinland News. 2016. “Kachin Traditional Long Drum, Festive Food, Rice Paddy Awarded World Records.” 23 February. http://kachinlandnews.com/?p=26573.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kiik, Laur. 2016. “Conspiracy, God’s Plan and National Emergency. Kachin Popular Analyses of the Ceasefire Era and its Resource Grabs.” In M. Sadan 2016a: 205235.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Laoutides, Costas, and Anthony Ware. 2016. “Re-examining the Centrality of Ethnic Identity to the Kachin Conflict.” In Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion, ed. Nick Cheesman and Nicholas Farrelly, 4765. Singapore: ISEAS—Yusof Ishak Institute.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Leach, Edmund. 1954. The Political Systems of Highland Burma: A Study of Kachin Social Structure. London: G. Bell & Sons.

  • Maddigan, Lisa. 2003a. “Development of the Green Textile Collection at Brighton Museum.” In Textiles from Burma, ed. Elizabeth Dell and Sandra Dudley, 3035. London: Philip Wilson.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Maddigan, Lisa. 2003b. “Making Textiles in Myitkyina.” In Textiles from Burma, ed. Elizabeth Dell and Sandra Dudley, 161167. London: Philip Wilson.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mahkaw, Duwa Hkun Sa. 2016. “The Founding of the KNO and the Development of a Diaspora Activist Network.” In M. Sadan 2016a: 330358.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Maran, Ja Htoi Pan. 2012. “Kachin Nationalism in Cyber Space.” Excerpt from unpublished master’s thesis (“Kachin Diaspora in the 21st Century: The First Generation Experience in America”), Northern Illinois University.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mears, Helen. 2016. “Counting the Days: The Kachin Ceasefire and the Emergence of a new Graphic Medium.” In M. Sadan 2016a: 257287.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Michaud, Jean. 2006. Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

  • Michaud, Jean. 2000. “Editorial: Zomia and Beyond.” Journal of Global History 5 (2): 187214.

  • Odo, David. 2000. “Anthropological Boundaries and Photographic Frontiers: J.H. Green’s Visual Language of Salvage.” In Dell 2000a: 4149.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Robbins, Bruce. 1998. “Introduction Part 1: Actually Existing Cosmopolitanism.” In Cosmopolitics, Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation, ed. Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins, 115. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sadan, Hkanhpa Tu. 2016. “Kachin Student Life at Yangon University in the Mid-1990s.” In M. Sadan 2016a: 308329.

  • Sadan, Mandy. 2000. “The Kachin Photographs in the J.H. Green Collection: A Contemporary Context.” In Dell 2000a: 5165.

  • Sadan, Mandy. 2007. “Constructing and Contesting the Category ‘Kachin’ in the Colonial and Post-Colonial Burmese State.” In Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma, ed. Mikael Gravers, 3476. Copenhagen: NIAS Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sadan, Mandy. 2012. “Cords and Connections: The Ritual Integration of Space in the Jinghpaw Cultural Zone.” In Origins and Migrations in the Extended Eastern Himalayas, ed. Stuart H. Blackburn and Toni Huber, 253274. Leiden: Brill.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sadan, Mandy. 2013. Being and Becoming Kachin: Histories Beyond the State in the Borderworlds of Burma. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sadan, Mandy, ed. 2016a. War and Peace in the Borderlands of Myanmar: The Kachin Ceasefire, 1994–2011. Copenhagen: NIAS Press.

  • Sadan, Mandy. 2016b. “Meeting Educational Needs in Marginal Areas of the State: Reflections on Research in Myanmar.” In Scholarship and Engagement in Mainland Southeast Asia, ed. Oscar Salemink, 221242. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schein, Louisa. 1998. “Importing Miao Brethren to Hmong America: A Not-So-Stateless Transnationalism.” In Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation, ed. Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins, 163191. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schein, Louisa. (1998) 2002. “Forged Transnationalism and Oppositional Cosmopolitanism.” In Transnationalism from Below, ed. Michael Peter Smith and Luis Eduardo Guarnizo, 291313. London: Transaction Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schein, Louisa. 2002. “Mapping Hmong Media in Diasporic Space.” In Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain, ed. Faye D. Ginsberg, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin, 229244. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scott, James C. 2009. The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, Martin. 1991. Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity. London: Zed Books.

  • Smith, Martin. 2016. “Reflections on the Kachin Ceasefire: A Cycle of Hope and Disappointment.” In M. Sadan 2016a: 5791.

  • South, Ashley. 2008. Ethnic Politics in Burma: States of Conflict. London: Routledge.

  • Ts’ui-p’ing, Ho. 2016. “People’s Diplomacy and Borderland History through the Chinese Jingpo Manau Zumko Festival.” In M. Sadan 2016a: 169201.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNHCR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). 2014. Global Resettlement Statistical Report 2014. http://www.unhcr.org/52693bd09.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Van Schendel, Willem. 2002. “Geographies of Knowing, Geographies of Ignorance: Jumping Scale in Southeast Asia.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 20 (6): 647668.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Welsh, Bridget. 2015. Presentation for Feedback for Final Report: Myanmar Political Aspirations. Yangon: Asian Barometer Survey.

  • Woods, Kevin. 2011. “Ceasefire Capitalism: Military-Private Partnerships, Resource Concessions and Military-state Building in the Burma-China Borderlands.” Journal of Peasant Studies 38 (4): 747770.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 101 85 6
Full Text Views 24 7 0
PDF Downloads 8 3 0