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 About Chu

Chu Paing.jpg

Life through unmascaraed eyes & homes away home


Chu is an anthropologist in training and a first-gen Burmese diasporic writer currently based in the traditional, ancestral, and historical meeting point of the Apache, Comanche, Sioux, Cherokee, Iroquois peoples, or the Texas Panhandle region.
As an (auto)ethnographer, Chu enjoys reflexively pondering upon her own encounters in life in juxtaposition to a broader cultural and social infrastructure(s). As she pays attention to the actual things people say, she is also intrigued by many unspoken cues in people's gestures and manners. If the world is, as they say in Burmese, bawa zatkhone (theater-stage of life), all human beings would be storytellers in their own ways and Chu's job as an anthropologist is to ethically retell their (and her own) stories.

Born and raised in Yangon, Myanmar and currently a migrant in the US, Chu is infatuated with the stories of diasporic kinship, belonging, and refusal towards their newly adapted ways of life. As a writer and an anthropologist, Chu is interested in engaging with the concepts of temporal positionalities, intense feelings, and shifting materialities in attempting to understand what it means to be a human.

Chu's current project looks at the ways in which anti-coup activists navigate social media as a double-edged sword–both a powerful talk-back tool against oppression (the military junta) and as a weapon that may exacerbate injustice in Myanmar. She is interested in exploring how individuals fight for their rights and seek joy while consciously navigating digital promises. If you are interested in collaborating with Chu, reach out to her via email.
As a feminist decolonial scholar, Chu believes that the personal is the political and therefore aspires to use analytic autoethnography as a critical reflexive tool of ethnographic refusal against the anthropological gaze. When she is not challenging her own privileged background as an ethno-religious majority Bama-Buddhist woman, she writes against whiteness and neocoloniality in higher education.

Fun Fact about Chu: in her native language Burmese, her first name Chu has three meanings: coin money, floral arabesque (like the ones in the photo above), or stylized lion with a flowing mane. She picks the last meaning because lion with a flowing mane symbolizes, to her, strength, independence, and fierceness, all three qualities she aspires to emulate!

Communications Manager

Aruna Global South

Non-profit Organization

December 2023 - present

Social Media Committee Lead
 Department of Anthropology

University of Colorado Boulder

August 2019 - August 2020

Graduate Teaching Assistant
Department of Linguistics

University of Colorado Boulder

August 2017 - May 2019

Program Director
Literacy Practicum Program

University of Colorado Boulder
August 2017 - May 2019


PhD in Cultural Anthropology
Department of Anthropology

University of Colorado Boulder

In progress

MA in Cultural Anthropology
Department of Anthropology

University of Colorado Boulder

December 2020

BA in General Linguistics
Queens College,

City University of New York

May 2017

AA in Secondary Education
LaGuardia Community College,

City University of New York

August 2015


2019 - 2024

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

2019 - 2020

Council of American Overseas Research Center Inya Institute Pre-dissertation Research Grant

2019 - 2020

Southeast Asian Research Group Pre-dissertation Research Grant

2017 - 2022

University of Colorado Boulder

Diversity, Equity, and Community Fellowship

2020 - 2021

University of Colorado Boulder

CU Engage Arts and Humanities Fellowship


1350 Pleasant St, 233 UCB

Boulder CO 80309


Chu May Paing & Than Toe Aung (2021) Talking back to white "Burma Experts."

Agitate Journal.


Chu May Paing (2020) In Need of Daughters of Good Lineage: Placing Gender in Myanmar's Buddhist Nationalist Discourse. Journal of Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. Special Issue.


Chu May Paing (2020) Viral Satire as Public Feeling in Myanmar. In "Pandemic Diaries: Affect and Crisis," Carla Jones (ed). American Ethnologist Website. May 20 2020.


Chu May Paing (2018) To Know a Batha: Family Language Soicalization among Burmese Buddhist Immigrant Families in New York City. Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement 13 (1).

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