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Adjudicating Transcultural Intimacies: Customary Law, Communal Identity and Intra-Asian Intermarriages in Colonial Burma

Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Columbia University Morningside Campus International Affairs Building, Room 918

The Weatherhead East Asian Institute (WEAI) presents "Adjudicating Transcultural Intimacies: Customary Law, Communal Identity and Intra-Asian Intermarriages in Colonial Burma" a brown bag lecture with Chie Ikeya, Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University.

No registration required.

Co-sponsored by Asia Pacific Affairs Council (APAC)

Since the pioneering work by Ann L. Stoler revealed that matters of intimacy were matters of state, there has been increased scholarly attention to colonial families, domesticities and sexualities. Yet, this flourishing area of inquiry remains limited by its preoccupation with companionship between European men and native women and inattention to relations between locals and the so-called Oriental/Asian foreigners whose mass migration was encouraged throughout the various European empires.

 Through an examination of colonial-period civil court cases and jurisprudential debates dealing with marriage, adultery, divorce, and inheritance, this talk will offer a comparative analysis of the two most common forms of transcultural intimacies in British Burma, the Indo-Burmese and Sino-Burmese, and highlight important commonalities in the way that affective ties, family affairs, communal identities, and anxieties about intermarriage were managed and confronted. It will question the stigmatization since the colonial period of the Indo-Burmese unionespecially between Buddhist women and Muslim menas a particularly pernicious form of intimacy detrimental to Burmese race and culture. The talk will serve to shed some light on the history of the strained Muslim Indian-Buddhist Burmese relations, which has drawn increased attention since the recent outbreak of sectarian violence and persecution of Muslims in the western state of Rakhine.