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Course information provided by the Courses of Study 2021-2022.
A topics course related to Southeast Asian Studies. Spring Topic: Identity Politics and Ethnic Conflict in Myanmar: The history of post-independence Myanmar has been marked by conflict between the Burman-dominated government and ethnic minority groups, as well as by communal violence. This course aims to explore the factors driving these conflicts and, in doing so, challenges some of the conventional explanations put forward by Myanmar politicians and analysts. The course will focus in particular on the role that identity politics has played in perpetuating conflict. In particular, the course will highlight the impact of an understanding of ethnicity (and identity more broadly) as a fixed, biological concept. At the same time, the nation-building processes attempted during the colonial and post-colonial periods failed to adopt an inclusive, multiple community-based approach. Moreover, Myanmar has never developed a political system that can accommodate the country's cultural diversity and diverse ethnic identities. The course will trace how the repeated failures to address these interlinked issues in the colonial and post-colonial periods have fueled ethnic divisions and conflict. The course will then turn to the ways in which Burmanization—the attempt to impose the culture and identity of the majority Burman—was used as a social control mechanism. It will show that this backfired; instead of unifying Myanmar's diverse ethnic groups, it contributed to widespread opposition to the State among ethnic minorities. These feelings were harnessed by those wishing to challenge state authority and enabled them to frame their conflicts as a matter of ethnic identity and even survival, prolonging ethnic conflict and communal violence in Myanmar.
Credits and Grading Basis
2-4 Credits Stdnt Opt(Letter or S/U grades)
Topic: Identity Politics & Ethnic Conflict in Myanmar
Class Number & Section Details
- R Rockefeller Hall B16
- Jan 24 - May 10, 2022
Yin Hlaing, K
Instruction Mode: In Person
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