Myself and my project partner, Nhkum Bawk Nu Awng have been working on this for nearly a year now and we are delighted to officially announce the launch of a brand new literature project: Kachin: Stories from an Uncivil War.
Kachin: Stories from an Uncivil War is an anthology of 12 short stories and 12 essays in the Jinghpaw language exploring how the civil war is impacting the Kachin community …
READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHY THIS PROJECT IT IS IMPORTANT
With the breakdown in June 2011 of the 17 year ceasefire in Kachin State between the Tatmadaw and Kachin Independence Army, Myanmar’s northern Kachin State has seen the displacement of over 100,000 civilians. Many more, while not displaced, are living in vulnerable and uncertain environments where they are subject to widespread violations of basic human rights.
Despite the early optimism of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and subsequent 21st Century Panglong conferences, both the previous Thein Sein administration and the current NLD led government have been unable to negotiate a political resolution to this conflict.
In the absence of a co-ordinated national effort and the restrictions placed on international NGO’S in terms of access and travel, local community based organisations have emerged. These civil society groups are leading the initiatives in protecting individuals in conflict-affected communities and understand better than most the impact of war.
For too long, the conflict, both nationally and internationally, has been viewed through the lens of those looking in from the outside. It is vital that the impact of the current conflict is represented by, and in the voice of, those who belong to the community. More importantly, such representation should be explored in a medium which allows for both the depth and personalisation of fiction, and the controlled authenticity of non-fiction.
READ ON TO LEARN WHAT MAKES THIS PROJECT UNIQUE
Fiction writers are rarely experts in the themes they write on. Of course most will do their due diligence, reading and researching and familiarising themselves as much as possible, but nothing is as good as first-hand experience.
So, we have invited local Kachin-based civil society organisations to partner with the writers. The writers will be able to seek advice and information from specialists in these organisations, allowing their story to be fictional but grounded in accurate reality.
As short stories, the writers are limited in how far they can explore. The specialist will provide an antidote to the narrower and more focused short story with a non-fiction essay giving a wider background to the theme the story has been written on – a fiction/non-fiction alliance.
READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW WE ARE GOING TO DO IT
With consultations from experts in the civil war in Kachin State we built a list of 24 impacts of the war on the Kachin community, ranging from landmine proliferation, to psychological impact of long-term displacement.
We have commissioned 12 young, emerging Kachin writers, who have chosen one of these impacts each to write a short story on.
After their own research they will collaborate with the civil society who is a specialist in their chosen impact.
Both the stories and essays will be published in the Jinghpaw language by a Kachin publisher and launched to the Kachin community.
A website will go live after the publication where aspiring writers can contribute their own stories based on the same 24 impacts, allowing the project to grow and providing a space for creativity in conflict.
READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHEN THIS WILL HAPPEN
Well, the 12 writers are already researching and plotting their stories so the project is half way there. Unfortunately COVID-19 had made predicting what is possible in the future challenging. Though we feel it hasn’t disrupted our timeline too much yet, we hope to have the Jinghpaw edition published sometime around the first quarter of next year.
READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ENGLISH EDITION
Yes, there will be one (fingers crossed!). We will be translating directly from Jinghpaw to English, rather than bridging it via Burmese and looking for a UK based publisher.
READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LEARNING MORE
A Facebook page dedicated to the project has been up for a month where we will post updates on the project plus share news from other sources on the impacts that feature in the anthology.
Sadaik will be the website home for the project until the book’s publication, so check back here regularly for updates.
A website for the anthology will go live after the publication of the book. It will feature writer bios, interviews, story excerpts and all the usual stuff.
And of course you are more than welcome to leave a message on the Facebook page or contact me here on Sadaik.