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Para-nationalism: sovereignty and authenticity in the Wa State of Myanmar

Steinmüller, Hans ORCID: 0000-0002-5921-421X (2021) Para-nationalism: sovereignty and authenticity in the Wa State of Myanmar. Nations and Nationalism, 27 (3). 880 - 894. ISSN 1354-5078

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Identification Number: 10.1111/nana.12709


If nationalism is defined as a claim to sovereignty based on authenticity, para-nationalism is nationalism in the state of war: urgent, yet ultimately futile. Modern warfare makes it particularly urgent for historical latecomers to national unity to claim their national sovereignty. Those claims, however, sometimes have to be postponed for the very same reason of military pragmatism. The double bind of nationalism at war is illustrated with the case study of the Wa State of Myanmar: Persistent military threat imparts great urgency to the promotion of authentic culture, the purification of a shared language and the rationalisation of violence. Yet at certain moments and places, the same objectives are put aside, in favour of working with what is at hand. Rather than a semiotic circle, it is suggested that the entanglement of para-nationalism and war is primarily a pragmatic bond, which is accessible to ethnographic analysis.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2020 14:51
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:33

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