Pāramī and Rebirth in the Lives of Thilashin

Tuesday, 25 April 2023 | 10:00 to 12:00 EDT | Room 626, Sixth Floor, Kaneff Tower, York University and virtually via Zoom

With M K Long, PhD Candidate, Cornell University

Respondant: Benedicte Brac de la Perriere, CNRS Paris

This chapter explores how pāramī (ပါရမီ) is theorized in biographies of thilashin. Pāramī, “ethical perfection,” is typically construed as actively cultivated by men of the political and religious elite. When ascribed to thilashin, pāramī works as a congenital trait that arises of its own accord and functions to protect women who desire to live as thilashin from the imposition of normative social expectations of age and gender. Tracing flows of pāramī in the 1982 biography of the thilashin Daw Gunawati (b. 1904) I show how the ripening of pāramī and the ripening of sexual maturity invoke distinct and opposing temporalities. The alternative temporality of pāramī is vital to the authorizing frameworks that affirm and enable thilashin in their claims to the contested resources of kinship, time, and capital.

For Zoom attendees, register at this link.

This event is part of the Burma Past and Present: Religion, Ethnicity and Power, a series of readings and discussion of works in progress. We will be reading and discussing work in progress with the author. Please email hmlwin@yorku.ca to receive a copy of the reading.