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Refiguring Women, Colonialism, and Modernity in Burma$
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Chie Ikeya

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834616

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834616.001.0001

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Mixing Religion and Race

Mixing Religion and Race

Intermarriage, Miscegenation, and the Wives and Mistresses of Foreign Men

(p.120) 5 Mixing Religion and Race
Refiguring Women, Colonialism, and Modernity in Burma

Chie Ikeya

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines negative perceptions of Burmese women who engaged in intimate relations with “foreign” men—that is, men who were neither Buddhist nor Burmese. One inevitable outcome of colonization was the rapid growth in kabya (mixed) population in Burma. Relationships between foreign men and native women persisted, and the kabya population continued to expand throughout the first few decades of the twentieth century in spite of the British imperial policies of racial segregation. At the same time, both the European expatriate community and the local population showed increasing scorn towards intermarriage and miscegenation. At the center of the discussion were two distinct types of unions: anglo-Burmese (European man–Burmese woman) and Indo-Burmese (kala man–Burmese woman). This chapter first considers the official discourse on “temporary unions” or cohabitation in Burma before discussing intermarriage in relation to emergent cosmopolitan ideas of religion and race. It also explores the reasons why the wives, mistresses, and kabya children of foreign men were viewed with disdain in colonial Burma.

Keywords:   native women, foreign men, kabya, Burma, intermarriage, miscegenation, mistresses, race, religion, cohabitation

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