Preventing Communal Violence in Myanmar

Nathaniel J. Gonzalez of the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights at the University of Chicago in the USA has a new article with JCA. “Preventing Communal Violence in Myanmar: Power and Legitimacy in Local Conflict Prevention” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2022.2050278) is now available.

The abstract states:

Violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar again reached international attention in 2017 when the newly elected democratic government failed to protect Rohingya Muslims from persecution. While inter-group violence is endemic, however, there are clear and strong examples of peaceful co-existence. This article draws on interview and ethnographic evidence from a case of prevented violence in Mingalar Taung Nyunt, Yangon, in 2017, to argue that engaging with the local, complex, and dynamic process of communal violence prevention can enrich contemporary theories of communal violence. The article draws specifically on insights from the theories of political manipulation and civic engagement to argue that the most effective analysis of communal violence will focus on the power dynamics that shape local responses to escalating threat. In Mingalar Taung Nyunt, violence was prevented through the concerted effort of individuals in unique positions that provided them with the legitimacy and political power that allowed them to successfully de-escalate tensions. The article contributes to the understanding of communal violence by emphasising how the role and importance of inter-group associations, government bodies, and others is shaped by the laws and norms of the community in which violence is escalating. The article’s conclusions furthermore outline how the recent military coup in the country will destabilise local peace-keeping efforts in central Myanmar and how such institutions may be rebuilt.

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