Abstracts by Author

Michael Martin

Volume 6
"A Glimpse into the Traditional Martial Arts in Burma" pp.141-152

The traditional martial arts are an aspect of Burmese culture that has been virtually ignored by Burma scholars. Yet these martial arts have a rich heritage dating back to the early days of Burma. Historic events, religion, political necessities, and, more have shaped them recently into economic realities. The traditional martial art came close to extinction during the British colonial period, but was revived during the Japanese occupation. In past times, they were utilized for warfare and self-defense. Today the self-defense element remains, while the combat element has been transformed into sports and artistic cultural expression. The present economic conditions and the spread of foreign martial arts pose a current threat to the survival of the Burmese traditional martial arts and require the attention of Burma scholars to document this important component of the historic cultural identity of Burma.

Megan Clymer and Min Ko Naing

Volume 8
"Conqueror of Kings: Burma’s Student Leader" pp.33-63

During the democracy uprising in 1988, Paw Oo Htun, whose nom de guerre, Min Ko Naing, means Conqueror of Kings, emerged as one of the movement’s most prominent student leaders. Together with other student leaders, he revived the umbrella students’ organization the All Burma Federation of Student Unions. Today, while serving out a twenty year prison sentence, Min Ko Naing remains a symbol of the Burmese student movement. In this essay, interviews with close friends and student colleagues help document his story.

Atsuko Naono

Volume 14
"Inoculators, The Indigenous Obstacle to Vaccination in Colonial Burma" pp.91-114

Colonial records on smallpox vaccination point to inoculations and inoculators as among the most serious obstacles to the progress of vaccination. However, despite their apparent importance, those identified as inoculators by the colonial medical officers remained an unclear, evasive and almost phantom-like group. This article examines how British colonial medical men wrote about a group who probably never existed in Burma outside of the colonial imagination. By locating the vaccinator’s enemy in a social practice and not in a particular group of practitioners, I seek to uncover the secret of inoculation’s resilience in the face of decades of aggressive vaccination campaigns. The inoculator was the bogeyman of colonial vaccination reports, requiring the historian to ask a different set of questions about indigenous resistance to colonial medicine and to look at the colonial records in a different way.

Kei Nemoto

Volume 5
"The Concepts of Dobama ("Our Burma") and Thudo-bama ("Their Burma") in Burmese Nationalism, 1930–1948" pp.1-16

This article attempts to demonstrate the interdependent operation of the term dobama (“our Burma”) and its opposite, thudo-bama (“their Burma”), in the minds of members of the Dobama-asiayoun (“Our Burma Party”). From the party’s very beginning in 1930 to the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League’s struggle against Japanese rule and subsequently for independence from the British from 1944 to 1947, Dobama party members, known as “thahkins,” avoided being identified as thudo-bama, meaning “the Burmese of their (the British or Japanese) side” or “the Burmese people who collaborated with the colonial regime.” Instead, they invariably identified themselves as dobama, or “our Burmese.” The thahkins preferred to define themselves in negative rather than positive terms. In other words, they chose to identify themselves by describing what they were not rather than what they were, and by attacking their imagined enemies, the thudo-bama, rather than attempting a clear definition of dobama.