Issue 3 for 2017 published

Issue 3 of Volume 47 (2017) has gone to print and is available electronically. It is at the publisher’s site.

This number is a special issue. Interpreting Communal Violence in Myanmar has been guest edited by Nick Cheesman from the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

The articles included are:

Introduction: Interpreting Communal Violence in Myanmar (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1305121) by Nick Cheesman

The Contentious Politics of Anti-Muslim Scapegoating in Myanmar (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1293133) by Gerry van Klinken and Su Mon Thazin Aung.

Reconciling Contradictions: Buddhist-Muslim Violence, Narrative Making and Memory in Myanmar (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1290818) by Matt Schissler, Matthew J. Walton and Phyu Phyu Thi

Gendered Rumours and the Muslim Scapegoat in Myanmar’s Transition (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1304563) by Gerard McCarthy and Jacqueline Menager

Communal Conflict in Myanmar: The Legislature’s Response, 2012–2015 (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1291847) by Chit Win and Thomas Kean

Producing the News: Reporting on Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1303078) by Lisa Brooten and Yola Verbruggen

How in Myanmar “National Races” Came to Surpass Citizenship and Exclude Rohingya (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1297476) by Nick Cheesman

The special issue also carries a set of book reviews on Myanmar:

Opposing the Rule of Law: How Myanmar’s Courts Make Law and Order (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1217556) reviewed by Susanne Prager-Nyein

Islam and the State in Myanmar: Muslim-Buddhist Relations and the Politics of Belonging (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1292361) reviewed by Iza R. Hussin

Mapping Chinese Rangoon: Place and Nation among the Sino-Burmese (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1301983) reviewed by Elaine L.E. Ho

Learning, Migration and Intergenerational Relations: The Karen and the Gift of Education (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1297477) reviewed by Shirley Worland

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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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Westra on China

JCA co-editor, Richard Westra has an op-ed at The World Financial Review. Titled “China Down: The Weight of the Past on China’s Struggle for Development,” the opening paragraph states:

Dr. Richard Westra historically contextualises China’s 21st century meteoric growth in terms of its post World War II socialist development and the particular modalities of the post 1978 market reform process. It is argued that no state can free itself from generalised patterns of global accumulation as these have shaped the world economy from the 1980s into the present. Thus, despite decades of high growth, China will never become an advanced economy as did South Korea. Rather, China’s development path as the consumer goods assembly hub of the world has saddled it with mounting travails that portend the breakdown of its current order. How, then, will China egress from its economic girdles?

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The production of communal violence in Myanmar

A sixth article of the seven in a 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.

In fact, this article is the Introduction (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1305121) to the special issue, authored by Nick Cheesman.

The abstract states:

Collective violence wracked Myanmar from 2012 to 2014. Overwhelmingly, Buddhists attacked Muslims. This article categorises the violence as “communal,” in so far as it consisted of recurrent, sporadic, direct physical hostility realised through repeated public expressions that Muslims constitute an existential threat to Buddhists. It advocates for interpretive modes of inquiry into the violence, as well as into the practices of interpretation enabling it. Eschewing methods aimed at producing a purportedly coherent picture of what happened, interpretive research raises questions about conventional readings of violence, and seemingly self-evident categories for its analysis. But as the articles in this special issue show, interpretivists do not repudiate the search for factual truth. The contributors all make strong truth claims, but claims recognising that factual truths are always contingent. They establish these claims by attending variously to the processes, narratives, histories and typologies that have contributed to the production of communal violence in Myanmar.

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News and Communal Violence in Myanmar

A fifth article in a 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.

Producing the News: Reporting on Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1303078) is authored by Lisa Brooten of the Department of Radio, Television and Digital Media, Southern Illinois University and Yola Verbruggen, an independent journalist based in Yangon.

The abstract for the article states:

Since communal violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in 2012 between Buddhist and Muslim communities, the plight of the Rohingya Muslims has received much media attention both inside and outside of the country. Rarely, however, do we get critical analyses of how such reporting is constructed. Research on communal conflict and journalism tends to focus on the how-to of conflict-sensitive reporting and the dangers of employing local fixers and interpreters whose influence is seen to reduce the objectivity of news, rather than on the actual news gathering strategies used in specific conflicts. Based on personal observations of a freelance reporter in Myanmar, and interviews with journalists and “fixers” working in the country, this article analyses the news production processes in reporting on the conflict. The article maps out the various actors involved in the production of news, such as foreign and local journalists, local producers (the “fixers”) and interpreters, and the various challenges and limitations they face. These challenges function to perpetuate a familiar set of reporting routines and “us vs them” or binary narratives, with consequences for the de-escalation or perpetuation of the conflict.

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Communal Violence in Myanmar: Roundtable Discussion

Readers in the USA may find the following Roundtable of interest, involving Nick Cheesman, the guest editor of a forthcoming special issue of the journal bearing the same title and contributor to that issue,  Matt Schissler of the Anthropology Department at Michigan University, among others.

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Michigan University presents the Roundtable.

Monday, March 27, 2017, 12:00-1:30 PM
Room 1636 School of Social Work Building

Details: Since 2012, Myanmar has experienced recurrent, sporadic, collective acts of lethal violence, realized through repeated public expressions that Muslims constitute an existential threat to Buddhists. Much of this has been directed at those who identify as Rohingya, but it has not been limited to this category. The panelists discuss the narratives, genealogies and typologies of this violence, drawing on scholarship from South and Southeast Asia.

Panelists: Nick Cheesman, Fellow, Department of Political & Social Change Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University, 2016-17 Member of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study

Mike McGovern Associate Professor, Anthropology & Director of Undergraduate Studies, University of Michigan

Matt Schissler Doctoral Student in Anthropology, University of Michigan

Moderated by Allen Hicken, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan


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Chinese in Rangoon

Elaine L.E. Ho of the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore has contributed a new review of Mapping Chinese Rangoon: Place and Nation among the Sino-Burmese (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1301983).

This book is authored by Jayde Lin Roberts  and the book is published by the University of Washington Press.

Ho observes that the book “fills a lacuna in knowledge on immigration and settlement in Myanmar (or Burma). While much academic attention has been paid to ethnic minority struggles in military ruled Myanmar, the situation of immigrant communities, such as the Sino-Burmese discussed in Jayde Roberts’ study, has been subsumed by the aforementioned scholarship.”

She says the book “is a valuable resource for readers seeking to understand how Myanmar has evolved politically and socially. The rich ethnographic vignettes that Roberts shares provide readers with rare insights from the perspective of the Sino-Burmese who are one of the key communities inhabiting and shaping the city of Rangoon. The book integrates knowledge from urban planning with that of cultural geography, and will appeal to readers seeking to deepen their understanding of Burma studies and/or overseas Chinese studies.”

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