The Transnational Flow of Music from Burma to the United States
Journal of Burma Studies
Some of the most prominent and commercially successful Burmese musicians have performed concert tours of the United States during the past decade. This article provides an empirical description of the transnational network which makes these concert tours possible, and then provides an explanation for this phenomenon. Burmese migrants—both the musicians and the emigrants who sponsor concerts—are identified here as transnational actors. This study, however, challenges much of the literature on transnational cultural flows, arguing that the appropriate focus for analysis in this case is not change and hybridity provoked by conditions in the host country (America), but rather the continuity of shared expectations and behaviors developed in the home country (Burma). In fact, it is the habitus of the Yangon-based music industry which makes possible the organization and funding of concert tours in the United States. This habitus, or shared way of thinking and behaving, includes: a flexible understanding of what constitutes a “band,” symbolic ties between musicians and fans which govern financial expectations, an informally structured industry which is open to the intervention of amateurs, and the habitual self-reliance of people who grew up under a government which provided few supports.
Copyright © 2016, Center for Burma Studies, Northern Illinois University
MacLachlan, Heather, "The Transnational Flow of Music from Burma to the United States" (2016). Music Faculty Publications. 33.