The 2023 Myanmar Update aims to understand, celebrate, and explicate the Myanmar people’s resistance to the 1 February 2021 coup. The military’s violent crackdown on what was initially a peaceful popular uprising provoked a near-countrywide revolutionary movement, which has brought together an array of different political, ethnic, and religious groups fighting for the shared goal of ending military rule. While differences exist in objectives and strategies, the establishment of organisations like the National Unity Government (NUG) and the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), as well as the numerous other formal and informal alliances, has arguably created an unprecedented sense of unity among Myanmar’s diverse peoples and raised widespread hope that this time the struggle may succeed.    

The conference seeks to explore the complexities of the revolutionary struggle; the effects of the coup on the state and economy; and, the myriad ways in which the people in Myanmar are coping with deepening violence and poverty.

  • How has the coup and the popular response to it reshaped Myanmar politics?
  • How are new armed groups forming, and how are they sustained?
  • What has happened to the civil disobedience movement?
  • What are the social, economic, and psychological implications of continued violence?
  • How is the diaspora contributing to the revolution?
  • How can foreign governments and the international aid community best support resistance to dictatorship?

We aim to address these kinds of questions, among others, in this conference.

The conference will take place at The Australian National University on Friday 21 July – Saturday 22 July 2023.

The two-day conference will feature scholars and experts from Australia, Myanmar, UK, North America and around the regions.

There are also pre-conference events on Thursday 20 July that we will list on our conference program with more information:

Convening Committee

  • Cecile Medail - Visiting Fellow, Department of Political and Social Change, ANU, cecile.medail@anu.edu.au
  • Morten Pedersen - Board member, Myanmar Research Centre, ANU, Morten.Pedersen@adfa.edu.au
  • Yuri Takahashi - Lecturer and Convenor of the Burmese Program, ANU, Yuri.Takahashi@anu.edu.au
  • Samuel Hmung - Research Officer, Myanmar Research Centre, ANU, Samuel.hmung@anu.edu.au

Sponsors

The 2023 ANU Myanmar Update is supported by the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, the International Development Research Centre, Canada, the International IDEA, and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Conference Participation

IN-PERSON ATTENDANCE 
We would love for you to join us in person, in the Auditorium, Australian Centre on China in the World Building #188 on the ANU Campus, on Friday 21 July and Saturday 22 July. 

ONLINE-ATTENDANCE
The 2023 Myanmar Update will be live streamed via Zoom Events. Please note no Q&A from the online audience, and some sessions are in-person only, we apologies for this inconvenience.

REGISTRATION 
Please register in-person and online tickets via Zoom Events. You will get both in-person and online tickets via Zoom Events. If you have any queries, or need assistance to register in the Zoom Eevents platform, please let us know. Email: parnerships.cap@anu.edu.au 

PLEASE NOTE: 

Free of charge

  • Reception for the launch of exhibition and guest lecture (20 July 2023)
  • Pre-conference dinner for speakers, chairs and invited guests (20 July 2023)
  • Conference reception (21 July 2023)
  • Morning tea and afternoon tea (21 July 2023)
  • Afternoon tea (22 July 2023)
  • Lunch for speakers, chairs and organisers (21-22 July 2023)

Fees for general participants

  • Conference lunch (21 & 22 July) is proudly provided by the Australia Mon Association in Canberra: $10 per meal for participant.

PRELIMINARY PROGRAM

Pre-conference Events (Thursday 20 July)

8.30am-4.30pm Early Career Researcher workshop (by invitation)

4.30-5pm Launch of Myanmar Update photo exhibition by Mayco Naing (Artist and Curator)

Venue: Auditorium Foyer, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

  • Introduction by exhibition curator Mayco Naing
  • Photo exhibition by Mauk Kham Wah and Mayco Naing
  • Video documentary -1 minute per day in the 60 days following the coup by M. (screening all day on 21-22 July only, CIW seminar room)

5-5.30pm Refreshments (for exhibition and guest address)

5.30-6.30pm Guest Lecture - De-‘Area Studies’-izing Burmese History: the African (and African American) ‘Burma” Experience in the Twentieth Century

Venue: Auditorium, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

  • Michael Charney, SOAS, University of London

7-8.30pm Preconference Dinner (by invitation) 

Day 1 (Friday 21 July)

Venue: Auditorium, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

9-9.30am Welcome

  • Welcome to the Country by Paul Girrawah House, First Nations Portfolio, ANU
  • Opening remarks by Helen Sullivan, Dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

9.30-10.30am Keynote Address 

Chair: Nick Cheesman, ANU

  • H.E. Zin Mar Aung, Minister of Foreign Affairs, National Unity Government of the Union of Myanmar (online)
  • Discussant: Tun Aung Shwe, Representative to Australia of the National Unity Government of the Union of Myanmar

10.30-10.45am Morning Tea

10.45am-12.45pm Political Update

Chair: Andrew Selth, Griffith University

  • Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Ye Myo Hein, Wilson Center (online)

12.45-1.45pm Lunch Break

1.45- 3.15pm Panel 1: The Revolutionary Movement

Chair: George Lawson, ANU

  • Samuel Hmung and Michael Dunford, Australian National University - “Understanding Myanmar’s Civil Disobedience Movement”
  • Ellen, McMaster University, Canada - “Women's agency in armed struggles in Myanmar's Spring Revolution”
  • Lukas Nagel, Griffith University - “Creative resistance and nationalism among youth activists in post-coup Myanmar”

3.15-3.30pm Afternoon Tea

3.30-5pm Panel 2: Revolutionary Governance

Chair: Jane Ferguson, ANU

  • Gerard McCarthy and Kyle Nyana, Erasmus University - “Governing revolution: Post-coup insurgent social order in Chin State and Sagaing Region” (online)
  • Tay Zar Myo Win, Deakin University - “Emerging local governance in Anyar”
  • Khin Zaw Win, Tampadipa Institute - "Reimagining the goals of the Spring Revolution"

5-6.30pm Conference Reception (In-person only)

Venue: Auditorium Foyer, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

  • Promotion of Art Exhibition: How to quantify FEAR? by artist and curator Mayco Naing 

Day 2 (Saturday 22 July)

Venue: Auditorium, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

9.30-10.00am Book Launch: "Myanmar in Crisis" (In-person only)

  • Book author: Michael Dunford, Australian National University 
  • Discussant: Cecilia Jacob, Australian National University 

Book Sale - A limited number of books are available for sale for AUD $25 (card only).

10am-12pm Economic Update and Humanitarian Issues 

Chair: Paul Burke, ANU

  • Jared Bissinger, Independent analyst
  • Tom Kean, International Crisis Group
  • Anne Décobert, and Tamas Wells, University of Melbourne -“Myanmar’s humanitarian crisis and the conflict paradox for local aid organisations"

12-1pm Lunch Break

1-3pm Policy Panel & Closing Remarks (In-person only)

Chair: Morten Pedersen, UNSW Canberra 

  • Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Khin Zaw Win, Tampadipa Institute
  • Jared Bissinger, Independent analyst
  • Representative, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

3-3.15pm Afternoon Tea

3.15-4.45pm Burmese Language Roundtable: "Researching and reporting in post-coup Myanmar" (In-person only)

Venue: Seminar Room, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

Chair: Samuel Hmung, ANU

  • Swe Win, Myanmar Now 
  • Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Khin Zaw Win, Tampadipa Institute

 

မြန်မာဘာသာ စကားဝိုင်း၊ “အာဏာသိမ်းပြီးမြန်မာနိုင်ငံတွင် သုတေသနပြုလုပ်ခြင်းနှင့် သတင်းတင်ဆက်ခြင်း”

သဘာပတိ - Samuel Hmung (ANU)

  • ဦးဆောင်ဆွေးနွေးသူ - Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung (University of Massachusetts Lowell)ဆွေဝင်း (Myanmar Now)၊ ခင်ဇော်ဝင်း (Tampadipa Institute)

Human rights in Myanmar: The NUG's programs and policies

By H.E. Aung Myo Min, Minister for Human Rights, National Unity Government, Myanmar

On April 16, 2021, the interim government, National Unity Government (NUG), was formed with two main aims: to eliminate the military dictatorship in Myanmar and to build a genuine federal democratic union. The Ministry of Human Rights is one of the seventeen ministries of the NUG to ensure nation-building in which all citizens and residents are treated equally without any discrimination as per international human rights principles and standards.

During this presentation and interactive discussion, the NUG Human Rights Minister H.E. Aung Myo Min will share how the Ministry works with various stakeholders both domestically and internationally to serve the people of Myanmar to be respectful of, to be protective of, and to promote human rights on par with the international human rights principles and standards. 

The Ministry is running three key programs: developing a mechanism where human rights abuses and violations can be put forwards as complaints and recording all human rights violations; cooperating and collaborating with international organizations working on human rights and justice, including the United Nations, to put the culture of impunity to an end; and, to ensure that human rights principles and standards are integrated into every policy and position of the NUG.

This opportunity to meet with Minister Aung Myo Min will be a chance to learn how the NUG is working with international human rights principles and to discuss the two-year old interim government's achievements to date.
 

About the speaker

H.E. Aung Myo Min has been an advocate for human rights in Myanmar for decades. He was a student activist when the pro-democracy movement happened in 1988 and escaped to the Myanmar-Thai border after the 1988 military coup. He served in the Foreign Affairs Department of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front. In 1995, he earned a master’s degree in human rights from Columbia University.

In 2000 he founded the Human Rights Education Center (Myanmar) in Thailand. From 2005 to 2010 he served as Director of the Human Rights Documentation Department under the National Coalition Government of Union of Burma. He was serving as Executive Director of Equality Myanmar before being appointed as the NUG Human Rights Minister. He holds seven international human rights honors including the Shuman Award presented by the EU.


This is an in-person only event, reception at 4.30pm, lecture at 5pm.


Registration is essential.

Call for applications - Workshop for PhDs & ECRs

Workshop for graduate research students and early career researchers

Applications due date: Friday 19 May 202
Workshop date: Thursday 20 July 2023
Workshop venue: The Australian National University, Canberra

Eligibility

The workshop is open to all students currently enrolled in a humanities, arts, or political or social science research degree (undergraduate honours, masters with research component, MPhil, PhD) at a higher education institution in Australia or New Zealand, as well as Myanmar nationals or early career researchers in Myanmar or Southeast Asia. Myanmar nationals in Australia are strongly encouraged to apply.

While in-person attendance is preferred for those that can travel within Australia, we will seek to accommodate participants who are unable to travel to Australia by offering the possibility of online participation.

Travel costs and stipends

Participants in Australia will be eligible to receive a travel stipend to offset the costs of travel and accommodation associated with attending the conference.

Expectations

Participants are expected to attend all workshop sessions and to contribute to group discussion. Pre-reading material will be circulated ahead of the workshop. After the workshop, participants will be encouraged to submit a short research paper for publication on the ANU MRC website, in English or Burmese. Participants who have been selected to present a paper at the Myanmar Update will not be required to submit a paper for the workshop but have the option of doing so. Myanmar Update participants whose expenses will be offset by the conference organisers will be expected to attend the workshop.

Application process

Please submit:

  1. a 250-word expression of interest outlining your current research, previous research experience, and interest in attending the workshop; along with
  2. a brief curriculum vitae (2 pages max) to Hunter Marston at Hunter.Marston@anu.edu.au or Samuel Hmung at Samuel.Hmung@anu.edu.au.

Deadline

Deadline for expressions of interest is Friday 19 May 2023.

Successful applicants will be notified shortly after the closing date.

Contact

For further information, please contact: 

ECR Workshop Call for EOI Burmese version: click here

Please note this workshop is by-invitation only. 

 

Myanmar studies since the 2021 coup - Workshop for graduate research students and early career researchers

This workshop will bring together early career researchers and PhD scholars of Myanmar to share experiences and lessons learned regarding fieldwork, methods, research, and writing since the February 2021 coup.

The workshop will comprise of several panels over the course of one day, immediately prior to the ANU Myanmar Update conference on 21-22 July 2023.

The sessions will address fieldwork and data generation, researching at a geographic distance, ethics, policy engagement, and new challenges for those wanting to speak, write and publish about Myanmar.

The ANU Myanmar Research Centre will provide ongoing support to participants who are interested in submitting a paper to the working paper series or sharing their research as part of the MRC Dialogue Series.

Timezone: 

5–6pm AEDT (UTC+11), 12.301.30pm MMT, 11.30am12.30pm IST 

VENUE:

The dialogues in the series will be held in hybrid mode, ie in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.

  • IN-PERSON: Regional Institutes Boardroom, HC Coombs Extension Building, 9 Fellows Road, ANU, Acton, ACT, 2601
  • ONLINE: Zoom. Once you register here, you will receive access to the online event page in Eventbrite where you will find the join link for the zoom meeting. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode.

For more information on the MRC 2023 Dialogue Series please see the MRC website 

You can subscribe to the ANU Myanmar Research Centre mailing list here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Education in Chin State amid political conflict: Catalyst or obstacle to progress?

Educational service is one among sectors impacted by the 2021 military coup. By the end of 2022, the UN estimated that around 3.7 million children in Myanmar were left out-of-school due to the ongoing conflict. Chin State, the nation's least developed yet most diverse region, is among the hardest-hit regions, with a quarter of its population displaced due to armed conflict. Drawing from a range of primary and secondary sources, this presentation discusses the pre-and post-coup educational landscape in Chin State. While it highlights the emergence of educational initiatives amid the political crisis, it also addresses cautionary concerns essential for the long-term peace and development of the Chin community and Myanmar.

The coup led to widespread public boycotts of government schools, resulting in closures and higher dropout rates. In response, Chin communities have developed alternative education approaches, some intended just to bridge the gaps while others aimed to develop a system that includes mother-tongue-based instruction, localized curricula, and decentralized management. However, detachment from central authority poses obstacles for certificate recognition. Ongoing armed clashes and transportation blockades add to the difficulties in supplying these non-state schools and ensuring their sustainability. Further complicating matters are issues of limited coordination and competition for scarce resources among various Chin organizations, which poses challenges to sustainable peace and development in Chin State beyond the armed struggle against the junta.

The discussion provides insights into the broader conflict trajectory in Myanmar, with consequences extending to neighboring regions and countries.

SPEAKER:

Peter Suante hails from the Chin/Zo indigenous community in Myanmar. He holds a PhD from the University of Hong Kong and is a dedicated scholar specializing in education policy, with a focus on the non-state sector. Peter is also a passionate advocate for the educational rights of marginalized and conflict-affected children. His recent publications on education in Myanmar are in the Asia Pacific Journal of Education (2022, with Mark Bray) and Paedagogica Historica (2022). Peter is in Australia as the second recipient in 2023 of a short term visiting fellowship inaugurated and jointly run by the ANU Myanmar Research Centre (MRC) and the Myanmar Research Network (MRN) at the University of Melbourne, with support from the International Development Research Centre, Canada. 

CHAIR: 

Samuel Hmung, ANU

If you have any questions about this talk, please write to Nick Cheesman at nick.cheesman@anu.edu.au or Samuel Hmung at samuel.hmung@anu.edu.au.

The ANU Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series is a conversation concerning current research on Myanmar aimed at providing scholars with an opportunity to present their work, try out an idea, advance an argument and critically engage with other researchers. International and Myanmar researchers from any discipline are invited to contribute. The Dialogue Series is particularly seeking to provide a space for early career researchers wishing to receive constructive feedback. Each dialogue is one hour long, including a 30-minute presentation followed by a 30-minute Q&A. As a hybrid series, the Dialogues are presented in both virtual and in-person format, hosted by the ANU Myanmar Research Centre.  

The Myanmar Crisis and Indo-Pacific Security
 

Myanmar has been engulfed in conflict since a military coup in February 2021. It may be tempting to see the conflict in Myanmar as an isolated or internal crisis. However, given the country’s location at the heart of the Indo-Pacific region, the ongoing conflict significantly affects the economic, political, and strategic interests of various global powers, including the United States, China, India, Japan, and Thailand.

At the same time, the involvement of regional and global powers, along with their competing and overlapping economic and geopolitical interests, adds layers of complexity to the conflict. Various international organizations and countries have been involved in attempts to mediate and address the conflict in Myanmar. However, achieving lasting peace and stability in the country remains elusive due to the complex nature of the conflict and the competing interests of regional and global actors.

Dr. Miemie Byrd will discuss why it is essential to examine the conflict within the broader context of strategic rivalry in the Indo-Pacific region to understand its regional implications, as well as the need for a coordinated effort from all stakeholders.

About the speaker


Dr. Miemie Winn Byrd is a Professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. She researches, publishes, and teaches in the areas of: US-Myanmar relations; security dynamics of Southeast Asia; linkages between the role of education, economic development, gender, private sector, and security in the Indo-Pacific region; and transformative adult learning/executive education; and organizational innovations.  

Dr. Byrd has served as the Deputy Economic Advisor at U.S. Pacific Command in uniform prior to her position at DKI APCSS. Dr. Byrd is an Adjunct Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. She is currently serving on the Boards of: the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College in California; Women’s LEAD in Lashio; Thanakha International Gender E-Tekkatho; International Development Research Centre; and US-ASEAN Business Council Myanmar Scholarship Fund.

This event is supported by the ANU Myanmar Research Centre and the ANU College of Law. 


This is an in-person only event.
Registration is essential.

Timezone: (please note time change for this one)

12-1pm (AEST) (UTC+10), 8.30- 9:30am MMT (UTC+6.30)
 

VENUE:

The dialogues in the series will be held in hybrid mode, ie in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.

  • IN-PERSON: Regional Institutes Boardroom, HC Coombs Extension Building, 9 Fellows Road, ANU, Acton, ACT, 2601
  • ONLINE: Zoom. Once you register here, you will receive access to the online event page in Eventbrite where you will find the join link for the zoom meeting. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode.

For more information on the MRC 2023 Dialogue Series please see the MRC website or contact the Convenors:

You can subscribe to the ANU Myanmar Research Centre mailing list here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Between Bama and Batha: Considering religious racialisation in colonial Burma

Scholarship on Myanmar, from its colonial history, to its citizenship crises, and the 2021 coup, has heretofore critically interrogated the relationship between ethno-racial identity and socio-political power. However, we have yet to address one important question: what exactly is the difference between ‘ethnicity’ and ‘race’ in the context of Myanmar? This dialogue proposes the utility of reading Burmese history through the analytic lens of critical race theory to identify ethnicity and race as separate, though related, social processes, each with distinct ramifications. This talk will present new research on family law litigation involving mixed Chinese-Burmese Buddhist families in the wake of the ‘British Burma Law’s Act’ (1898-1948) to make the case that racialisation in Burma is drawn along lines of religious rather than ethnic distinction, and that it has historically been drawn along highly gendered lines.

SPEAKER:

Matthew Venker  is a cultural anthropologist studying the historical intersections of race, religion, and citizenship in Burma. His dissertation, Racial Categories, Religious Distinctions: Mixed Buddhists and the Burma Laws Act 1898-1947, interrogates how British colonial structures created new categories of legal personhood that divided the colony’s Buddhist population. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2023. He is currently a Visiting Fellow with the Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University. 

CHAIR: Hunter Marston

The Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series’ 2023 program includes a special series of nine presentations on the theme of revolution and solidarity in Myanmar, which is based on a collection of papers commissioned by the Myanmar Research Centre and the Danish Institute for International Studies.

ANU Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series

Timezone: 

5-6pm (AEST) (UTC+10), 1.30- 2:30pm MMT (UTC+6.30)
 

VENUE:

The dialogues in the series will be held in hybrid mode, ie in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.

  • IN-PERSON: Regional Institutes Boardroom, HC Coombs Extension Building 8, 9 Fellows Road, ANU, Acton, ACT, 2601
  • ONLINE: Zoom. Once you register here, you will receive access to the online event page in Eventbrite where you will find the join link for the zoom meeting. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode.

For more information on the MRC 2023 Dialogue Series please see the MRC website or contact the Convenors:

You can subscribe to the ANU Myanmar Research Centre mailing list here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

The prison and the revolution in Myanmar: Exploring prison protests during a revolutionary situation

What role does the prison play in the unfolding revolutionary situation in Myanmar? This dialogue explores this question through the analysis of the intense and extensive prison protest after the coup, which have been widely covered in the media. From open source data it pieces together – as ‘thickly’ as possible – an account of these protests and write them into the history of prison rebellions in Myanmar and general theories of prison unrest. On this basis, the dialogue will discuss if, how and to what extent imprisonment engenders or quells revolutionary momentum and consider how the prison participates in current processes of state (un)making during the revolution in Myanmar.

SPEAKERS:

Tomas Max Martin and Andrew M Jefferson are senior researchers at DIGNITY- Danish Institute Against Torture.

CHAIR: Hunter Marston

The Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series’ 2023 program includes a special series of nine presentations on the theme of revolution and solidarity in Myanmar, which is based on a collection of papers commissioned by the Myanmar Research Centre and the Danish Institute for International Studies.

‘The military has messed with the wrong generation’: The longue durée of Myanmar’s youth-led revolution

Myanmar’s spring revolution against the violent reimposition of military rule has been built around the actions and voices of what is often referred to as Generation Z – those born between 1997-2012. Beginning with widespread creative acts of protest, the growth of a powerful Civil Disobedience Movement and a violent resistance in the form of People’s Defence Forces (PDFs), Myanmar’s younger generation are widely seen to have 'galvanized' the country-wide revolution against the military leaders (Beyer 2021; Jordt et al. 2021). The category of Generation Z is analysed as if it were a homogenous whole, a population category only and mistakenly defined by age.

However, to speak of Myanmar’s youth in the singular is to obscure their great diversity, including rural/urban divides, ethnic and religious identities, social classes and individual experiences of the revolution itself. In this article, we draw from an ‘ethnographic sensibility’ (McGranahan 2018), bringing attention to the lived expectations, complexities, possibilities and contradictions of young men and women in a time of revolution. By bringing together both an insider and outsiders’ perspective we shed light on Myanmar’s spring revolution from a new angle and the category of Generation Z, and also add to scholarly debates on youth as revolutionary actors.

 

SPEAKER:

Justine Chambers is a postdoctoral researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. Her co-author who wishes to remain anonymous is a postgraduate researcher and member of Myanmar’s Generation Z.



CHAIR: Hunter Marston

The Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series’ 2023 program includes a special series of nine presentations on the theme of revolution and solidarity in Myanmar, which is based on a collection of papers commissioned by the Myanmar Research Centre and the Danish Institute for International Studies.

ANU Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series

Timezone: 

5-6pm (AEST) (UTC+10), 1.30- 2:30pm MMT (UTC+6.30)
 

VENUE:

The dialogues in the series will be held in hybrid mode, ie in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.

  • IN-PERSON: Regional Institutes Boardroom, HC Coombs Extension Building 8, 9 Fellows Road, ANU, Acton, ACT, 2601
  • ONLINE: Zoom. Once you register here, you will receive access to the online event page in Eventbrite where you will find the join link for the zoom meeting. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode.

For more information on the MRC 2023 Dialogue Series please see the MRC website or contact the Convenors:

You can subscribe to the ANU Myanmar Research Centre mailing list here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Revolution or order? Buddhist responses to the 2021 (failed) Military Coup in Myanmar

The 2021 military coup in Myanmar has brought about massive popular resistance. Recent research into the religious responses to the coup in its early phases indicate that the mass protests in February and March 2021 were characterised by global internet culture, interreligious solidarity, and new visions for a plural and democratic Myanmar. However, institutional Buddhism finds itself in an ambiguous, fragmented and vulnerable position in ways not seen before.

In this talk we will tease out similarities and differences in the role played by Buddhism compared to previous 'critical events' in postcolonial Burma/Myanmar, asking two interrelated research questions: First, why and in what ways and do senior leading monks support the military coup? Second, what is the role of Buddhist revolutionary politics, and what might 'revolution' mean from a Buddhist point of view? Finally, we will discuss the possible long-term impact of the 'Spring Revolution' on Buddhism in Myanmar.

SPEAKERS:

Dr Iselin Frydenlund MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society

Dr Iselin Frydenlund is Professor of the Study of Religion at MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, former Director and Fellow of the MF Centre for the Advanced Study of Religion (MF CASR). She specialises in questions relating to Buddhism and its societal impact, focusing on Buddhism, politics, nationalism, and violence in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. She is the author of Buddhist-Muslim Relations in a Theravada World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), co-edited with Michael Jerryson, and she has recently edited (with Eviane Leidig) a Special Issue on ’Love Jihad’: Sexuality, Reproduction and the Construction of the Predatory Muslim Male (2022). She is currently working on a monograph on Buddhism as a political religion, for the Scandinavian University Press. 

Phyo Wai Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) member

Born and raised in peri-urban Yangon, Phyo Wai graduated from West Yangon University and Yangon Institute of Education with specialisation in English Literature. After graduation, he co-founded Myanmar Cultural Research Journal and Asia Myanmar Research Institute, also contributing his written works to local academic journals and newspapers. Since 2016, he became a lecturer in Department of English Related to Tripitaka in State Pariyatti Sasana University (Yangon) and Mahavihara Dhamma-Vinaya University. When the military coup started, he stopped teaching there and participated in the CDM movement and other anti-coup activities. 

CHAIR: Hunter Marston

The Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series’ 2023 program includes a special series of nine presentations on the theme of revolution and solidarity in Myanmar, which is based on a collection of papers commissioned by the Myanmar Research Centre and the Danish Institute for International Studies.

ANU Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series

Timezone: 

5-6pm (AEST) (UTC+10), 1.30- 2:30pm MMT (UTC+6.30)
 

VENUE:

The dialogues in the series will be held in hybrid mode, ie in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.

  • IN-PERSON: Hedley Bull Building #130, Cnr Garran Rd and Liversidge Street, ANU, Acton, 2600 ACT
  • ONLINE: Zoom. Once you register here, you will receive access to the online event page in Eventbrite where you will find the join link for the zoom meeting. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode.

For more information on the MRC 2023 Dialogue Series please see the MRC website or contact the Convenors:

You can subscribe to the ANU Myanmar Research Centre mailing list here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Strange bedfellows or trusted comrades? Digital solidarity-building among Myanmar’s revolutionaries

Might the process of struggling against a common dictator enable a broad-based development of solidarity among traditionally divided communities? As the Myanmar military’s intensified violence since its 2021 coup attempt has hindered cross-group interactions on the ground, little is known about how inter-ethnic solidarity has continued to develop. Since many digitally-connected revolutionaries across Myanmar took to social media in order to condemn the military and mobilize resistance, studying these groups’ online interactions will provide critical insights into their internal dynamics.

By analyzing conversations throughout the one-year period following the coup on three of the most popular revolutionary groups on Facebook from Bamar and non-Bamar communities, we find a two-step process of inter-ethnic solidarity building. Commitment to collaborate with and accommodate other groups first emerged out of a pragmatic logic and then developed more organically into empathy through online exposure to other groups’ suffering at the hand of the common enemy.


SPEAKERS:

Megan Ryan is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Political Science, University of Michigan.

Mai Van Tran is a Postdoc at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen.

Swan Ye Htut is a PhD student at the Department of Sociology, Stanford University.

CHAIR: Hunter Marston

The Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series’ 2023 program includes a special series of nine presentations on the theme of revolution and solidarity in Myanmar, which is based on a collection of papers commissioned by the Myanmar Research Centre and the Danish Institute for International Studies.

ANU Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series

Timezone: 

5-6pm (AEST) (UTC+10), 1.30- 2:30pm MMT (UTC+6.30)
 

VENUE:

The dialogues in the series will be held in hybrid mode, ie in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.

  • IN-PERSON: Hedley Bull Building #130, Cnr Garran Rd and Liversidge Street, ANU, Acton, 2600 ACT
  • ONLINE: Zoom. Once you register here, you will receive access to the online event page in Eventbrite where you will find the join link for the zoom meeting. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode.

For more information on the MRC 2023 Dialogue Series please see the MRC website or contact the Convenors:

You can subscribe to the ANU Myanmar Research Centre mailing list here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Muslim communities in Myanmar's spring revolution

From Rashid, Razak, and Ko Ni to Mya Aye, Myanmar Muslims have participated in mainstream politics in Myanmar's independence and democratic struggle. In the failed political transition period (2011 to 2021), Muslims in Myanmar were the most vulnerable and socially and politically marginalised in the wake of the ultra-nationalist movement coupled with widespread societal Islamophobia.

In the spring revolution, dozens of Muslims were imprisoned and killed, including Wai Moe Naing, a prominent student activist from Monwya recently sentenced by the SAC to 34 years in prison. Muslims also have a significant amount in PDF and fight against the military junta along with other ethnic and religious fighters. However, despite their participation and their great sacrifice, Muslim communities as well as other 'unofficial minorities' are still generally excluded in the federal democratic discussion, such as the NUG, NUCC, and CRPH.

We will discuss how Muslim communities in Myanmar face structural and everyday discrimination regarding citizenship, including access to fundamental human rights and public services. And how can the new federal democratic design accommodate their historical grievances and ensure their social integration/inclusion with the larger society in Myanmar? How can the revolution lead to a more inclusive understanding of Myanmar identity?

SPEAKERS:

Dr Elizabeth Rhoads is a Researcher and Visiting Senior Lecturer at Lund University's Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies where she works on citizenship and displacement in and from Myanmar. 

Aung Ko Ko is the founder and director of Mosaic Myanmar, an NGO that enables individuals and societies to achieve community and social cohesion through education and advocacy support.

CHAIR: Hunter Marston

The Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series’ 2023 program includes a special series of nine presentations on the theme of revolution and solidarity in Myanmar, which is based on a collection of papers commissioned by the Myanmar Research Centre and the Danish Institute for International Studies.

ANU Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series

Timezone: 

5-6pm (AEST) (UTC+10), 1.30- 2:30pm MMT (UTC+6.30)
 

VENUE:

The dialogues in the series will be held in hybrid mode, ie in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.

  • IN-PERSON: Hedley Bull Building #130, Cnr Garran Rd and Liversidge Street, ANU, Acton, 2600 ACT
  • ONLINE: Zoom. Once you register here, you will receive access to the online event page in Eventbrite where you will find the join link for the zoom meeting. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode.

For more information on the MRC 2023 Dialogue Series please see the MRC website or contact the Convenors:

You can subscribe to the ANU Myanmar Research Centre mailing list here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Revolutionary countryside: Life on the land after Myanmar's military coup

Women’s work is critical to revolutionary projects, yet is often written out of war stories. After the 2021 Myanmar military coup, new and renewed patterns of violence, displacement and resistance spread across the countryside, disrupting and reworking agrarian life. Bringing together interdisciplinary feminist insights from the fields of war studies, political ecology, and geography, this project draws on methodologies such as participatory photography and critical mapping to understand gendered relations of land, labor, and love in the Myanmar Spring Revolution.

Through collaborations with farmers, artists, students, and activists, we seek both to document everyday experience and to enact a more emancipatory politics. In this talk, we will give an overview of the project’s motivation, methodologies, analyses and engaged activities before focusing on a new paper that interweaves an illustrated personal narrative with historical and cartographic analysis in order to write a feminist counter-topography of the revolutionary countryside.

SPEAKERS:

Hilary Faxon is an Assistant Professor at the University of Montana, currently on leave as a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Copenhagen, where she researches and teaches on environment, development, gender, and technology, with a focus on agrarian and political change in Myanmar. 

Jenny Hedström is an Associate Professor at the Swedish Defense University, where she researches and teaches on gender, war, and peace, with a focus on civil wars in Myanmar.

CHAIR: Hunter Marston

The Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series’ 2023 program includes a special series of nine presentations on the theme of revolution and solidarity in Myanmar, which is based on a collection of papers commissioned by the Myanmar Research Centre and the Danish Institute for International Studies.

ANU Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series

Timezone: 

5-6pm (AEST) (UTC+10), 1.30- 2:30pm MMT (UTC+6.30)
 

VENUE:

The dialogues in the series will be held in hybrid mode, ie in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.

  • IN-PERSON: Hedley Bull Building #130, Cnr Garran Rd and Liversidge Street, ANU, Acton, 2600 ACT
  • ONLINE: Zoom. Once you register here, you will receive access to the online event page in Eventbrite where you will find the join link for the zoom meeting. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode.

For more information on the MRC 2023 Dialogue Series please see the MRC website or contact the Convenors:

You can subscribe to the ANU Myanmar Research Centre mailing list here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Instrumentalism, empathy or privilege awareness: An evaluation of inter-ethnic solidarities in Myanmar since the 2021 coup

The institutionalised dominance of the Bamar majority group and the correlated exclusion of other ethnic groups from the national identity has been a major cause of ethnic conflict in Myanmar. During the ‘democratic’ experiment of the past decade the National League for Democracy policies reinforced perceptions that power was still in the hands of the Bamar and ethnic issues continued to be ignored.

Since the 2021 coup, the democratic opposition is showing signs that it understands the need for ethnic inclusion for a future federal democracy: abuses against the Rohingya have been acknowledged and the leadership of ethnic armed organisations is regularly praised. Beyond this, public statements and social media posts have been reflecting a change in Bamar perceptions towards the struggles of ethnic people, which highlights the possibility for a radical re-consideration of racial views in Myanmar.

Drawing on Graeber’s (2011) conceptualisation of revolutions as an opportunity to disrupt 'unequal structures of imaginative identification' and Walton’s (2013) theorisation of Burman privilege as a form of institutionalised and structured dominance that is similar to Whiteness, our paper examines the extent to which sudden revolutionary actions and changing solidarities have contributed to shift previous racial or inter-ethnic dynamics.

Drawing on data generated in 2022-2023 and complemented by observations made during pre-coup fieldwork, we seek to answer the following question:  How have new forms of inter-ethnic solidarity demonstrated by the Bamar majority towards other ethnic groups challenged unequal structures of racial privilege since the coup?

Based on social media and textual analysis of statements by Bamar leading figures of the Revolution as well as semi-structured interviews with ethnic Mon, Pa-O, Kachin, Karenni, Karen, Shan, Rakhine, Zomi, Tavoyan and Rohingya, we explore how members of these ethnic groups react to changing attitudes of Bamar elites and ordinary Bamar citizens.


SPEAKERS:

Cecile Medail is a postdoctoral Researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and an affiliate of The Australian National University's Myanmar Research Centre. 

Saw Chit Htet Tun is an independent researcher.

CHAIR: Hunter Marston

The Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series’ 2023 program includes a special series of nine presentations on the theme of revolution and solidarity in Myanmar, which is based on a collection of papers commissioned by the Myanmar Research Centre and the Danish Institute for International Studies.

ANU Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series

Timezone: 

5-6pm (AEST) (UTC+10), 1.30- 2:30pm MMT (UTC+6.30)
 

VENUE:

The dialogues in the series will be held in hybrid mode, ie in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.

  • IN-PERSON: Hedley Bull Building #130, Cnr Garran Rd and Liversidge Street, ANU, Acton, 2600 ACT
  • ONLINE: Zoom. Once you register here, you will receive access to the online event page in Eventbrite where you will find the join link for the zoom meeting. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode.

For more information on the MRC 2023 Dialogue Series please see the MRC website or contact the Convenors:

You can subscribe to the ANU Myanmar Research Centre mailing list here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

This seminar is cancelled.

ANU Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series

Timezone: 

5-6pm (AEST) (UTC+10), 1.30- 2:30pm MMT (UTC+6.30)
 

VENUE:

The dialogues in the series will be held in hybrid mode, ie in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.

  • IN-PERSON: Regional Institutes Boardroom, HC Coombs Extension Building 8, 9 Fellows Road, ANU, Acton, ACT, 2601
  • ONLINE: Zoom. Once you register here, you will receive access to the online event page in Eventbrite where you will find the join link for the zoom meeting. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode.

For more information on the MRC 2023 Dialogue Series please see the MRC website or contact the Convenors:

You can subscribe to the ANU Myanmar Research Centre mailing list here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

CHAIR: Hunter Marston

The Myanmar Research Centre Dialogue Series’ 2023 program includes a special series of nine presentations on the theme of revolution and solidarity in Myanmar, which is based on a collection of papers commissioned by the Myanmar Research Centre and the Danish Institute for International Studies.