Buddhist bomb diversion and an American airman reincarnate: World War folklore, airmindedness and spiritual air defense in Shan State, Myanmar

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The Second World War indelibly transformed the political landscape of Southeast Asia. Few people in Myanmar's Shan State today have any direct memories of the Japanese occupation and Allied bombing campaigns in the area. Therefore, folklore offers an important connection to the historical events and cultural geographies of war. Based on ethnography among Shan villagers carried out in 2015, this article discusses folklore regarding two specific aerial bombing incidents between the towns of Kyaukme and Hsipaw, Shan State. According to these narratives, local spiritual powers influenced the effects of either the bombs or the airplanes themselves. Through analysis of the stories, we learn of the capacity for local spiritual powers to extend their domain to the air, which, in turn offers a new way to understand airmindedness as a relationship with aviation technology and aerial geographies of war. In addition to articulating a Buddhist and spiritual framework for airmindedness, these stories also mobilize physical evidence not only to confirm their truth, but also to encourage Buddhist notions of morality in the future.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)473-489pp
    JournalCultural Geographies
    Volume25
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

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