Gender and Muslim Scapegoating in Myanmar

The seventh and final article for the forthcoming special issue on Interpreting Communal Violence in Myanmar, guest edited by Nick Cheesman, is available at the JCA publisher’s site for the journal.

This article carries the title, “Gendered Rumours and the Muslim Scapegoat in Myanmar’s Transition” (DOI:  10.1080/00472336.2017.1304563). It is authored by Gerard McCarthy and Jacqueline Menager of the Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University.

The abstract states:

Since 2012 Myanmar has experienced recurrent waves of religiously imbued violence. Violence has been both physical and symbolic. Symbolic violence has included the popularisation of the belief that Muslim men are the primary threat to Buddhist women, and by extension, the body politic of Myanmar. This article draws on ethnographic research and theory on rumours and nationalism to show how colonial era social and legal processes have been drawn on to establish Muslim men as the scapegoats for deeply held social grievances amongst the Buddhist majority. Rumours of the rape and forced religious conversion of Buddhist women make the political personal and justify demands for male and state protection. We argue that in Myanmar the figure of the wealthy Muslim perpetrator has been popularised both as a scapegoat for decades of brutal authoritarianism and as a threat to the contemporary social reproduction of the national Buddhist polity.

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