Ghosts Look Over the Shoulders of Myanmar Peace Negotiators

Peace Studies researcher Elise Boulding wrote that peace, including the type sought today in Myanmar, is focused by a “two hundred year present.”  By this she meant that how people think about their values, fears, loyalties and dreams is inherited from the memories of parents and grandparents who recall the emotional events they heard about … Continue reading Ghosts Look Over the Shoulders of Myanmar Peace Negotiators

One (dis)placed ethnographer’s movements during the pandemic: Is the on-line world a lesser ethnographic world?

– By Sarah Huxley – The joys and pains of ethnography, as many an ethnographer might tell you, focus on the immersive, and experiential conundrums that ‘real life’ invariably spits up. That’s not to say that there is no/ little preparation, but rather to say that the very nature of the ethnographic methodology, that is– … Continue reading One (dis)placed ethnographer’s movements during the pandemic: Is the on-line world a lesser ethnographic world?

The Fear of Dahalo Bandits on a Drive Through the Alaotra Night (Madagascar)

– by Anders Norge Lauridsen – Why are we stopping? The shadows are growing longer and the twilight is near, but we still have a long way home to the village of Anororo ahead of us. A man at a run from the other tractor several ridges behind us catches up with our tractor and … Continue reading The Fear of Dahalo Bandits on a Drive Through the Alaotra Night (Madagascar)

Returning

– by Valerie Miller – Returning is a problematic word for anthropologists. To turn is to go around, go another direction, move to a different position. But REturning would then mean to stay right where you are (by turning again), realizing the full circle. It is movement from A to B to A, movement from … Continue reading Returning

Reading Myanmar—‘Miss Burma’ and the Liberal Conscience

Miss Burma (2017) by Charmaine Craig is a historical novel that tells the story of Burma from the perspective of a Karen family that was part of Rangoon’s elite after World War II. The book describes the Karen perspective on mid-20th-century wars in Burma, beginning with the Japanese invasion in 1942 and continuing today.  Resonating particularly … Continue reading Reading Myanmar—‘Miss Burma’ and the Liberal Conscience

Batman’s Butler Alfred Philosophizes about Colonial Violence in British Burma

Colonial Burma has a strange hold on the Anglo-American imagination—it is a remote and exotic place where the British were not very successful in holding sway. British authority was routinely challenged by people in the forests of Burma who, the British felt, did not understand the beneficent “reason” inherent to their colonial project. From a British … Continue reading Batman’s Butler Alfred Philosophizes about Colonial Violence in British Burma

The Elephants, the Peace Process, and the Blindmen in a Myanmar Hotel Ballroom

 The Joint Peace Fund, the group sponsoring the 2015 Ceasefire in Myanmar, sponsored a reception on International Peace Day at the Chatrium Hotel in September 2019.  I was there because like much of Yangon’s NGO world, I know that the Joint Peace Fund administers a huge pot of foreign aid that funds the “peace process”. … Continue reading The Elephants, the Peace Process, and the Blindmen in a Myanmar Hotel Ballroom

Insistence on Voluntary Rohingya Repatriation to Myanmar Lacks ‘Moral Imagination’

Published August 29, 2019 in The Irrawaddy of Yangon, Myanmar. By TONY WATERS  The International Donors are meeting frequently to discuss the 1 million Rohingya refugees sitting in the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazaar.  The strange assertion that “the refugees will  go home to Rakhine soon voluntarily because we have a plan” is again being recycled; … Continue reading Insistence on Voluntary Rohingya Repatriation to Myanmar Lacks ‘Moral Imagination’

How to Read a WEIRD Evidence-Based Yangon Consultancy Report

By TONY WATERS 24 June 2019 (Reposted from The Irrawaddy of Yangon, Myanmar) Yangon’s INGOs are full of consultancy reports which offer “professional” opinions about conditions in Myanmar. NGOs, INGOS, and UN agencies investigate transitions regarding democracy, environment, federalism, ethnicity and, of course, gender. These are the subjects that donors are interested in—and thus willing to pay … Continue reading How to Read a WEIRD Evidence-Based Yangon Consultancy Report

College Internships and Fears of Hanging

I wrote a blog about the city of Yangon last month.  I visited there in February, and quite liked the city.  It is a vibrant city, busy, without being threatening.  I met some teachers there too whose company I really enjoyed, as well as a number of other people.  We talked about teaching, complained about … Continue reading College Internships and Fears of Hanging

George Orwell and the Modern Yangon INGO Worker

  Recently I ran across a Western diplomat, this one from an embassy in Southeast Asia.  I dream of having intellectual conversations with such people.  After all they hold the levers of governmental power, particularly the big aid budgets in Myanmar, Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the conversations are usually one sided.  … Continue reading George Orwell and the Modern Yangon INGO Worker