Cultural Landscape and Migration

  • Djsa Journal


This paper focus on the way Nepalese migrants in Myanmar use features of the natural environment in their homeland in metaphoric constructions of a cultural landscape expressing ethnic identity. It is through such "symbolic work" that perceptions of "ethnoscapes" are shaped and indoctrinated. Although the appeal is to symbols that can serve to foster the importance of Nepaliness as a basis for belonging to an imagined community, this does not mean that the caste/ethnicity interaction boundaries are broken down. It does mean however that sectors of activities where such boundaries are made relevant have been changed and so has the cultural content organized through such interaction boundaries. Ethnoscapes do not exist by themselves from a 'primordial' past; they require ongoing expression and confirmation. Features of a natural environment most migrants have never seen is used as sources for spinning compelling webs of significance extolling the values of belonging to a group that shares a common past in that environment. I shall here present material of an ethnoscape very different from what is experienced in Nepal, namely Nepalese multi-caste/ethnic communities among Kachins, Shans, Burmese, Indian and Chinese traders in the Kachin state of Northern Myanmar.

Keywords: Nepali migrants; Myanmar; ethnic identity; cultural landscape