"Half a Century of Publishing in Mandalay" pp. 83-106
The Ludu Kyi-bwa-yay Press was established in Mandalay as a radical left-wing publishing house by Ludu U Hla and his wife, Daw Amar, in 1938. Ludu U Hla was a pioneering Burmese journalist, would-be social reformer, social historian, and, most of all, recorder of folk-tales. Daw Amar began her writing career in 1938 as a translator, mostly of anti-Western works; in 1964 she began a series of major works dealing with Burmese traditional performing arts and the history and culture of Upper Burma and of Mandalay. U Hla died in 1982, and in March 1984 much of the press was destroyed in the great Mandalay fire. Nevertheless, the press resumed publishing in 1987 under the direction of Daw Amar and despite continued strict government censorship has remained in operation until the present. The latest book in Ludu U Hla's folktale series appeared posthumously in 1996. This article is followed by a translation of a short biography of Ludu U Hla written by Daw Amar.
"Professor U Pe Maung Tin (1888–1973): The Life and Work of an Outstanding Burmese Scholar" pp.7-10
In 1998, Daw Tin Tin Myaing (Brenda Stanley), the youngest daughter of the late Burmese scholar U Pe Maung Tin, organized a symposium at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies to honor the achievements of her father. U Pe Maung Tin grew up as a Christian, but mastered Pali, the language of Buddhism, early in his career. This led him to become one of the world’s leading translators of Pali texts into English and interpreter of Buddhist doctrine to Western scholars. This article by guest editor and former student Anna Allott outlines U Pe Maung Tin’s life and work as a Pali scholar, lifelong student and promoter of the Burmese language, historian, linguist, phonetician, teacher, and editor.
Archaeological Researches on the Excavated Finds at the Ancient City of Wadee
"Healing, Rebellion, and the Law: Ethnologies of Medicine in Colonial Burma, 1928–1932"pp.151-185
Asia’s encounter with Western medicine and the emergence of public health regimes might be regarded as one chapter within the larger framework of colonialism and its discursive practices. Medicine contributed to the ordering of colonized Asia by providing particular vocabularies and frameworks through which cultures and communities could be identified, categorized, and transformed into accessible knowledge. Notions of the body, race, cleanliness, sickness, “the patient” and healing were continuously shaped and negotiated within the context of this encounter, involving sites of healing, communities, and a wide range of socio-political contexts. This study considers the way in which “indigenous medicine” was delineated by two instruments of the colonial administration in British Burma: a committee appointed to integrate the study of local practices into the educational system and a special tribunal, which was formed to process detainees in the wake of one of the largest rebellions in colonial Burma’s history. It suggests that the shadow of Burma’s administrative connection to India might have corresponded to the manner in which healing culture was conceptualized. Due to changing political circumstances surrounding the question of Burma’s separation from India, the image of traditional medicine shifted to represent a distinct form of Burmese criminality and resistance.
"Those Men in Saffron Robes"
The article offers an overview of Myanmar’s state-sangha interactions in the monarchical and post monarchical period ushering a time when what the author calls a 900 year-old punctuated equilibrium is under stress. An ancient patron-client relationship collapsed when the colonial state refused to sustain the sangha as monarchs had done since the 11th century. Independence ushered further adjustments when the potential patron turned out to be a secular, modern republic with its inherited but also innovative notions of authority, legitimacy and responsibility. The evolution of concepts of state and politics, especially the battle for independence in the turbulent pre-1948 period, further fragmented the sangha, undermining its earlier notional integrity and cohesion thereby enabling for the first time the emergence of a hitherto unfamiliar type, the mobilized and politically active monk. In the first post-independence decade, the new state legislated a closer relationship between the sangha and authorizing institutions. When politics and pieties collided, successive Myanmar governments tried in various ways to make the institution of the sangha more amenable to a modernizing state’s needs. How these influential moves played out in the post 1988 period is the subject of the article’s conclusion. What has been called the Saffron Revolution (2007) is examined by the author in light of the issue of politicization – to argue that what happened was neither saffron, nor a revolution. The issues raised have profound implications for the sangha’s future and cannot be understood without a grasp of the institution’s past.
"Kingship in Pagan Wundauk U Tinâ's 'Myan-Ma-Mwn-Ok-Cjok-Pon-Sa-Dnn'"
This paper analyzes the attitudes toward kingship expressed in the Myan-ma-Mn Ok-cjok-pon Sa-dnnâ€™ ["The Royal Administration of Burma"], written by Pagan U Tin (1861-1933) and first published shortly after the author's death. Following a brief biographical account of Pagan U Tin, the discussion considers four perspectives on Burmese kingship appearing in the work: 1) the king as judge; 2) the king as guarantor of regularity; 3) the king as descendant of the Sun (and of Mahasammata, originator of civil society); and 4) the king as Buddha-to-be. The Burmese monarch was predominantly a symbolic figure who affirmed the kingdom's past and guaranteed its future. Although U Tin reports on the questionable morality of Kings Mindon and Thibaw, he nevertheless addresses both as "Excellent King" and admonishes his readers against offending the dignity of the throne.
The Other Bayonet: A New Source to Frame the Second Anglo-Burmese War
A new source reveals Burmese bravery at the Shwedagon pagoda following the hostilities of the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1853. Once buried in the Mormon archives in Salt Lake City a brief journal describing events in and around the Shwedagon Pagoda of that period has surfaced. The journal, written by a man situated in the Shwedagon Pagoda, strengthens postcolonial scholarship focusing on counter narratives to colonial conquest and dominance not easily found in primary sources to date. Destruction or suppression of primary sources served a strategic agenda as another type of bayonet for colonial conquest. Through this new eye witness, we can now glimpse amidst desecration and hostilities into Burmese rebellion against their aggressors.
"Burmanization" and the Impact of J.S. Furnivall's Views on National Identity in Late-Colonial Burma
J.S. Furnivall’s interventions in connection with extending the franchise under the Burma Reform Scheme while serving in the ICS, helped to create political identities that might be said to have reinforced the territory’s ethnic divisions. This confirms his agency in generating political identities that were distinct from the market-based identities that he later labeled the plural society. As a result, these actions and his personal efforts to establish a trans-ethnic national identity based on the dominance of Burmanization, have obscured rather than elucidated understandings of Burma and its problems since Independence.
Spirit Possession: An Autonomous Field of Practice in the Burmese Buddhist Culture
The cult of the Thirty-Seven Lords is distinctively known for its practices of spirit possession although possession by spiritual agents may be found in other domains of Burmese Buddhist culture. What sets apart the practices observed in the cult of the Thirty-Seven Lords is a form of individual and relocatable possession contrasting with traditional rituals linked to the locality and allowing for the professionalisation and the autonomisation of the ritual role of spirit mediums. Ceremonies of possession for the Thirty-Seven Lords mobilize communities of followers in which bonds of dependence with the nats are mediated by ritual masters, married to a nat, such bonds fashion these communities on the model of “clienteles” whose dominant authorizing principle is spirit possession. Spirit possession is what allows the cohesion of the spirit mediums practices that can be observed particularly during the festivals and can be said to constitue an autonomous ritual domain in the Burmese Buddhist culture.
“Transition” as a Migratory Model in Myanmar
‘Transition’ has been a staple concept in political science, law, economics, and development studies for several decades. Easily transposed from the analytic context into everyday parlance, it carries a teleological sense of progress and promise, a ritualistic shedding of a ‘before’ as part of a present journey into a brighter future. Even where it is not defined any further, it can serve as a rallying cry, or a delaying tactic in the face of those demanding more radical change. Today’s use of ‘transition’ in reference to Myanmar found in scholarly, journalistic, and general idiom, then, is nothing new: ‘transition’ as a paradigm has a long history in places like Spain after Franco, during the democratization of Latin America, and in the post-Soviet spaces of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. After reviewing the literature on ‘transitology’, we focus on the anthropological critique of the paradigm that was taken up by political scientists when ever more countries were declared to be ‘in transition’. We argue that Myanmar is only the last example of states that are assigned a transitory stage of development. This article addresses the political agendas and the pitfalls that travel along with the paradigm.