Rakhaing Thungran in Cox's Bazar: celebrating Buddhist new year in southern Bangladesh

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis



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[Truncated] Understanding cross-border ethnicity means looking at how the cultural characteristics of an ethnic group are linked to social and political conditions within the local community, within the ethnic group living across the national border, within each nation-state and between the nation-states with jurisdiction over each group. This thesis examines what it means to be Buddhist Rakhaing in southern Bangladesh, just over the border from the Rakhaing homeland in Burma. I do this principally through an examination of the celebration of the Rakhaing New Year festival or Thungran. Four inter-related points underpin the discussion on how Rakhaing experience this festival. First, a description of the various rituals and associated cultural characteristics of the festival experience does not adequately address how and why different Rakhaing individuals act differently during the festival. Second, instead of the Bangladesh state being an entity separate from Rakhaing ethnicity, it is deeply implicated in Rakhaing’s everyday life and hence the way Thungran is celebrated. Third, the social and political dynamics of Rakhaing everyday life are as important as the fluid cross-border cultural processes evident in their festival celebration. Fourth, the notion of having a distinct culture as Burmese people is central in how the Rakhaing understand and respond to the social and political challenges of living within Muslim Bengali dominated Bangladesh. Using Thungran as a starting point in the study of Rakhaing ethnicity, this thesis extends the analysis into how the Bangladesh Rakhaing are influenced by ethnic minority identity across two countries and how their ethnic identity influences their responses to specific socio-political contexts of Bangladesh.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
StateUnpublished - 2015

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