at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

The Burmese Film Industry and Shan Spectatorship


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Tuesday, December 2, 12:00 p.m., Moore Hall 319 (Tokioka Room)
Presented by Dr. Jane M. Ferguson. Lecturer, Australia National University

In spite of Burma’s long and vibrant history of indigenous film production, critical material on the subject is extremely sparse. Similarly, within the critical material on the decades-long insurgency, popular culture consumption is an often overlooked dimension of the daily lives of ethnic insurgents and their affiliates. Ethnographic fieldwork conducted in one such Shan community shows that in spite of “or even because of” the ongoing conflict, Burmese popular culture is symbolically relevant and richly meaningful…even amongst some of the most adamant of Shan separatists. In this presentation, Jane Ferguson will give an overview of the history, structure, and some of the popular genres of the Burmese motion picture industry, and then discuss dimensions of spectatorship of Burmese films in a village of Shan insurgents and their affiliates at the Thai-Burma border.


JANE M. FERGUSON lectures on Mainland Southeast Asian Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. Her interests includes nationalism, borderlands, popular culture, musical genres, digital media, Buddhist ritual and Burmese, Thai and Shan migration. Ferguson received her doctorate at Cornell University in May 2008 for her dissertation entitled Rocking in Shanland: Histories and Popular Culture Jams at the Thai-Burma Border. Ferguson’s publications include Rock Your Religion: Shan Merit-making, Ritual and Stage-show Revelry at the Thai-Burma Border in Asian Legacies and Inscriptions of the State (forthcoming) and Revolutionary Scripts: Shan Insurgent Media Practice at the Thai-Burma Border in Political Regimes and the Media in Asia: Continuities, Contradictions and Change.