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Journal Article

Performing Ethnicity in Southern Shan State, Burma/Myanmar: The Ozi and Gong Traditions of the Myelat

Gavin Douglas
Ethnomusicology
Vol. 57, No. 2 (Spring/Summer 2013), pp. 185-206
DOI: 10.5406/ethnomusicology.57.2.0185
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/ethnomusicology.57.2.0185
Page Count: 22
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Performing Ethnicity in Southern Shan
State, Burma/Myanmar: The Ozi
and Gong Traditions of the Myelat
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Abstract

Between the Burman lowlands and the Shan highlands of Myanmar lies a transitional zone known as the myelat that is home to several ethnic minorities. The Danu, Pa-O, Taungyo, and Intha communities all define themselves in contrast to the Burman and Shan populations that dominate to the west and the east. In this paper I examine the performance of ethnic identities through their use of distinct ozi drum traditions articulated with different drum sizes, rhythms, accompanying instruments, tempos, dance props, and gestures. The ozi and gong ensembles operate as markers of difference between the region's ethnicities, but also, given their stylistic similarities, reveal a clear example of the malleable and relational aspects of identity in a region of the world where ethnic affiliation is the primary marker of social identity and also the source of much political strife.

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