Research Report

Working Paper 7: Living on Both Sides of the Border

Transnational Migrants, Pop Music and Nation of the Shan in Thailand

The paper draws on Shan immigrant community in Chiang Mai, Thailand, who form nearly one sixth of Chiang Mai’s population. Shan popular music and the VCDs and cassettes are cultural forms that spill across Burma’s borders and are consumed widely by Shan migrants living in Thailand. The paper explores circumstances of particular groups of audiences in order to illustrate the complexity of the ways in which people construct, remember, and lay claim to particular concepts such as “homeland” and “nation” through the consumption of popular music. It also examines “migrant public spheres” in the city of Chiang Mai through observation of festivals and cultural ceremonies that take place throughout the year for the Shan migrants. A reading of Shan festivals reflects the social lives of its participants, and the dynamic between capital, the state and a disempowered migrant group.

Publication date : August 2007
Price : 180 Baht / 7 US$