Burmese spirit worship offers a particularly complex case of trans- lating transgression and transgendered identities.1 The Burmese nat kadaw, or spirit medium is, on the one hand, provocatively rep- resented and constructed in variegated globalized representations highlighting the exotically queer and, on the other hand, often miscategorized and unevenly transposed into Western frames of language and epistemology.
Nats are spirits, channeled by Burmese queens, that can help with finances, love, etc., and 85% of the population believes in them. The queens who channel them (and it’s mostly a “gay thing”) are highly respected and feared by all, including Burma’s brutal military. “Did you fuck the general?” one of them asks another. It seems some of the nats have “government sponsors” who give them presents, houses, and per- haps nights of hot military lovin’. Some of the spirits have names suspi- ciously similar to drag queens: Lady Silver Wings, Little Flute Lady..
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