‘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.



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


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


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:

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We look forward to seeing you there.



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