Understanding Chin Political Participation in Myanmar
In scholarship on political participation, a tension exists between paying attention to individual agency, complexity, and contingency on the one hand and generalizing to a level that allows the application of findings to other contexts on the other. Generalization is useful but the tendency in broader studies of political participation has been to neglect individual subjective experience, individual geography, and biography and lose sight of individual agency, complexity, and contingency through aggregation of data and in presentation of research. The result is accounts of political participation that make mobilization seem overly deterministic. In this thesis I have utilized an approach that attempts to address this tension to understand political participation among the Chin, one of Myanmar?s ?ethnic nationalities.? My aim has been to understand processes through which individual Chin came to participate in political activity in Myanmar in different ways and to different degrees. From life story interviews with Chin living in the United States focused on their experiences in Myanmar, patterns emerged, related to identity, networks, where people lived, mobility, and sequencing. These patterns are likely relevant beyond the case of the Chin and many would likely not have emerged using more standard approaches to understanding political mobilization.