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Ken MacLean

consequently offers a strategic entry point into perceptions of different classes of risk and the strategies adopted toward managing them. Myanmar is the third most landmine-contaminated country in the world after Afghanistan and Colombia. According to

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Wenyi Zhang and F.K.L. Chit Hlaing

This article outlines three historical transitions in Kachin chieftaincy in Burma and China. Picking up where the three main theoretical models in the literature leave off (the models of Leach, Nugent and Friedman), we put forward an analysis of Kachin sociopolitical organization using new China-based material. We compare this with Burma-based material in the literature, and re-analyse the interactions between the internal dynamics of Kachin chieftaincy and the politico-economic systems in Southwestern China and Northern Burma. We argue that Kachin chieftaincy in Burma and in China shared the same logic, although this logic was manifested differently in the two countries. We offer new material for understanding the lowland polities and upland chieftaincy in Southwestern China and mainland Southeast Asia.

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Belonging in a New Myanmar

Identity, Law, and Gender in the Anthropology of Contemporary Buddhism

Juliane Schober

Recent literature on Buddhism in Southeast Asia and especially Burma or Myanmar has focused on Theravada formations in traditional and modern contexts. 1 Theravada civilizations, in particular, are characterized by elite institutions, by their use

Open access

Ward Keeler

means exclusively, those early in their lives—may well be a culture-bound understanding. It is clear to me that I, a middle-class American, subscribe to this view with greater conviction than the people I speak with in Indonesia and Burma. Yet to me it

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“We Owe a Historical Debt to No One”

The Reappropriation of Photographic Images from a Museum Collection

Helen Mears

images held within a UK museum collection. Created by a British colonial officer cum amateur anthropologist engaged in documenting the frontier areas of northern Burma in the early twentieth century, 1 the use of these images within the music video

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Tiffany Pollock

influx of laborers from Myanmar. 1 Burmese men typically arrive in Thailand independently through irregular channels in their teen and preteen years. Most go to tourist areas or large cities to look for work, and many who arrive on the tourist islands

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From Relations of Power to Relations of Authority

Epistemic Claims, Practices, and Ideology in the Production of Burma's Political Order

Ingrid Jordt

Following the 1962 coup of Burma's first post-Independence and parliamentary democratic government, a succession of military régimes has asserted their legitimacy on diverse grounds. Their ability to keep the upland minorities contained and the country unified, to implement a socialist-style redistributive system, and contemporaneously to act as chief patron to the sangha (order of monks), have each functioned as claims to legitimate rule and to nation-statehood. In 1990, the régime refused to hand over power to Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party, following a landslide election. Aung San Suu Kyi's resistance to the régime, and claims for her own political legitimacy have been asserted, predominantly through an emergent `global society' (universalizing) discourse about human rights, régime performance, and democratic self-determination. In this paper, I examine these separate assertions for legitimacy as distinct but interrelated frameworks for thinking and action, the inconsistencies among which complicate the process of stable state making in Burma.

Open access

Dancing with the Junta Again

Mistreatment of Women Activists by the Tatmadaw Following the Military Coup in Myanmar

A. A. (Myanmar Researcher) and Liv S. Gaborit

On 1 February, when the newly elected officials were supposed to be sworn in as Members of Parliament a military coup took place in Myanmar. In the past, Myanmar has been ruled by military juntas for more than half a century, but within the last

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Echoes of Colonial Logic in Re-Ordering “Public” Streets

From Colonial Rangoon to Postcolonial Yangon

Beth E. Notar, Kyaw San Min, and Raju Gautam

This article investigates three historical moments in Rangoon, Burma (Yangon, Myanmar) when the city has restricted certain forms of mobility. The first occurred in 1920, when British authorities restricted rickshaws pulled by Indian laborers. The second was in 1960, when the military “caretaker government” sought to sideline pedicabs and horse carts as part of an urban “cleanup” campaign. The third happened in 2017, when city authorities under a new democratic government sought to limit the number of taxis and allow digital ride-hailing services such as Uber and Grab to operate in the city. Despite three very different forms of government, the later discourses eerily echo the exclusionary logic that certain forms of migrant driven mobility need to be cleared away for more “modern” mobility.

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Slavery as the commodification of people

Wa "slaves" and their Chinese "sisters"

Magnus Fiskesjö

In the 1950s, teams of Chinese government ethnologists helped liberate “slaves” whom they identified among the Wa people in the course of China’s military annexation and pacification of the formerly autonomous Wa lands, between China and Burma. For the Chinese, the “discovery” of these “slaves” proved the Engels-Morganian evolutionist theory that the supposedly primitive and therefore predominantly egalitarian Wa society was teetering on the threshold between Ur- Communism and ancient slavery. A closer examination of the historical and cultural context of slavery in China and in the Wa lands reveals a different dynamics of commodification, which also sheds light on slavery more generally. In this article I discuss the rejection of slavery under Wa kinship ideology, the adoption of child war captives, and the anomalous Chinese mine slaves in the Wa lands. I also discuss the trade in people emerging with the opium export economy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century which helped sustain, yet also threatened, autonomous Wa society. I suggest that past Wa “slave” trade was spurred by the same processes of commodification that historically drove the Chinese trade in people, and in recent decades have produced the large-scale human trafficking across Asia, which UN officials have labeled “the largest slave trade in history” and which often hides slavery under the cover of kinship.