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Rethinking Kachin wealth ownership

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines Kachin wealth ownership in order to offer an alternative to Leach’s “oscillation” model of social change for Kachin communities across a wide expanse of upland Burma, as set out in his Political Systems of Highland Burma. It argues that the indigenous meaning of wealth ownership among the Kachin in making their social agency of display is key to understanding Kachin social change. From a re-analysis of Jingpo wealth objects, the chapter also argues that the competition between the desire for possessive wealth and relational wealth is an underlying reason for the “flowering of gumlao” social order in the Kachin Hills, at least in the early half of the twentieth century. In different regions of the Kachin/Jingpo area, what wealth means to the people, and how that meaning is brought into being to motivate social change, are important questions that need to be asked.

Keywords: Edmund Leach; James Henry Green; Kachin Wealth Ownership; Muiho Mulat; Political Systems of Highland Burma

10.1163/ej.9789004160347.i-331.61
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004160347.i-331.61
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