Michael W. Charney
School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS], University of London
Interest in Rakhaing (Arakan), has resurged after a considerable period in which few studies appeared outside ofMyanmar (Burma).1 This newly found interest, at least newly found in terms of foreign scholars, is indicated in the numerous studies which have appeared since the early 1990s and in the holding of the present workshop. One frequently discussed topic that has not yet yielded a satisfactory conclusion, is the association between religious identity and local ethnonyms, which is the subject of the present paper.
“Rakhaing" (Arakanese) used as both an ethnonym and as a geographical and politicaI name for the littoral and the district on the eastern shores of the Bay of Bengal, has become inexbicably associated in the prevailing scholarly and popular literature with a Buddhist identity. As one Rakbaing scholar, U Tha Hla, has recently