Karen and Chin Virtual Communities: Uploading Music andLived Experience to Social Media

by Karen Wijesekera

Institution: Bowling Green State University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Cultural Anthropology; Ethnic Studies; Music; Karen diaspora; Chin diaspora; Burmese Social Media; Virtual Ethnomusicology; Karen New Year; Chin National Day
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2069957
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=bgsu1431515301


In this paper, I investigate the Karen and Chin ethnic groups’ use of the Internet, specifically social media, to create a virtual sonic space that is specifically Chin and Karen. I approached this topic by attending and interviewing people at the events of Karen New Year and Chin National Day and examined how those events were being uploaded to Internet sites such as YouTube. My initial findings led me to examine the ways that the Internet functions in Burma and how the Burmese government’s approach to the Internet affects the ways indigenous groups such as the Chin and the Karen use the Internet within the country of Burma and within the Karen and Chin diasporas. My preliminary examinations pointed to the Karen and Chin communities utilizing two main online sources: exile news media, such as Kwe Ka Lu and Chinland Guardian, and social media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube in which music videos play a primary role in communication. In the chapters of this thesis, I describe the interrelationship between exile news media and Chin and Karen music videos, examine how these videos constitute forms of communication, and discuss how the uploading of live events such as Karen New Year and Chin National Day allow for the formation of a connected and imagined virtual community that encompasses both homeland and diaspora within sonic borders of Chin- and Karen-ness. Advisors/Committee Members: Lawrence, Sidra (Advisor).