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

Thinking about Yangon: Normalcy or Conflict?

Christina says I should write about my trip to Yangon (Myanmar/Burma) these last few days, as it is a city unfamiliar to the readers of Ethnography.com.  Her impressions, and those of our readers are probably in the context of the international news about Myanmar which focused last year on the Rohingya refugee crisis in which … Continue reading Thinking about Yangon: Normalcy or Conflict?

Basic Human Decency and Death by Hanging in Britain’s Colonies

Every once in awhile, I’ll revisit George Orwell. Last week it was for “Shooting an Elephant,” when I lectured here in Thailand about the nature of ethics and state/political power. The essay is great for teaching about the nature of state power, in this case using 1920s Burma where Orwell himself served as a British … Continue reading Basic Human Decency and Death by Hanging in Britain’s Colonies