"Syphilis and the Kachin Regeneration Campaign, 1937–38" pp.115-149
This article discusses the introduction of a policy known as the Kachin Regeneration Campaign in the Kachin Hills from 1937 to 1938. Initiated by a belief that the Kachin people were on the verge of dying out because of an epidemic of syphilis, the campaign reveals much about the realities of Kachin dissociation from the late colonial regime, contrasting sharply with the conventional historical narrative of Kachin compliance with imperial control. A significant part of the Regeneration Campaign’s agenda was a less publicly acknowledged awareness that former Kachin soldiers were becoming a potentially volatile interest group and that there was increasing discontent across the Kachin Hills with regard to the administration, the military and the missions. The article uses the concept of a sick role to describe the approach of the Regeneration Campaign to Kachin society and discusses how the rhetoric of the campaign became embedded in the sermons of the local Christian missions, justifying changes to women’s roles and more recently impacting upon early responses to the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region.
"Professor U Pe Maung Tin: A Gentle Genius, a Meek Master" pp.35-41
U Pe Maung Tin’s accomplishments as a Burmese scholar are well-documented. Less so are his teachings and writings about Christianity and the Christian ministry in Burma. Alan Saw U, executive secretary and editor of the Myanmar Christian Literary Society, reflects on U Pe Maung Tin’s life as a leading figure in the Anglican Church in Burma.
"Venerating the Buddha's Remains in Burma: From Solitary Practice to the Cultural Hegemony of Communities" pp.111-139
The veneration of Buddha relics and images is a neglected, yet central organizing principle of Theravada culture and religious practice. My essay is informed by a historised understanding of Eliade's hierophany, a manifestation of a universal Buddhist sacred reality that defines and identifies cultural orders at the centers of local, historical contexts. I further rely on Bells' work on ritual and Gramsci's writings on hegemony to describe Burmese veneration of the Buddha's remains in diverse social and religious contexts. These range from the solitary practice, meditation and personal service in the Ananda mode to the Royal mode that defines social hierarchy in public rituals and expresses socio-religious aspirations of individuals and communities through culturally salient metaphors.
"The North Win and the Sun: Japan's Response to the Political Crisis in Burma, 1988–1998" pp.1-33
Japan's response to the political crisis in Burma after the establishment of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in September 1988 reflected the interests of powerful constituencies within the Japanese political system, especially business interests, to which were added other constituencies such as domestic supporters of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's struggle for democracy and those who wished to pursue 'Sun Diplomacy,' using positive incentives to encourage democratization and economic reform. Policymakers in Tokyo, however, approached the Burma crisis seeking to take minimal risks–a "maximin strategy"–which limited their effect.
Siam-Myanmar relations through the perspective of the Royal Orders of Burma
Researchers of Myanmar history have found the Royal Orders of Myanmar kings to be a very important Myanmar literary genre. As wars with Siam raged on over centuries, Myanmar has a shared history with Siam from Innwa to Konbaung period. The Royal Orders contain invaluable historical facts which were not mentioned in the Siamese or Myanmar chronicles. Therefore, students of both countries can benefit from the research work on the Royal Orders of Myanmar kings. Despite the existence of some works by Myanmar scholars on Royal Orders, it can be observed that these works seldom deal with Siam-Myanmar relations. Therefore, to contribute to this scholarship, this paper will focus on a detailed study of Royal Orders to provide contemporary accounts of Siam-Myanmar relations from mid-16th to 19th century.
Railways in Shan State
There are two major railway lines in Shan State, the largest of Burma’s administrative regions. The first starts at Mandalay, crossing into Shan State after Pyin Oo Lwin and going to the railhead at Lashio. A second starts at Thazi, and passes through Kalaw to go to Shwe Nyaung near Inle Lake before continuing north to the railhead at Yaksauk. Shwe Nyaung was once connected to Taunggyi by a rail line, now long since abandoned. There is another line, isolated from the rest of the network, which runs from Taunggyi to Kakku, then on to Namsang and Mong Nai. The line is only usable as far as Htiyi. A line from Mong Nai to Kengtung, known as the Shan State Railway, was announced with much fanfare in 2009 but construction was abandoned soon after it started. This paper will discuss the need for the immediate rebuilding of the line from Shwe Nyaung to Taunggyi, and in the longer term a line linking Taunggyi to Kengtung. The new National League for Democracy government could create much political goodwill for itself by rebuilding the line from Shwe Nyaung to Taunggyi (about 21 miles); by improving the road from Taunggyi to Kengtung (a distance of 281 miles); by re-opening the line from Taunggyi to Mong Nai; and in the longer term building a railway of quality from Taunggyi to Kengtung. This paper draws on fieldwork conducted in Shan State in 2013, 2016 and 2017.
The Burma Democratic Front: How the Eighty-Eight Generation Chin were Mobilized into the Chin National Front
On September 18, 1988 a military takeover ended the nation-wide pro-democracy uprising in Myanmar. A common narrative is that after the coup, on the one hand students and others involved in the uprising fled to border areas to escape arrest, and that on the other hand they hoped to continue their struggle through armed means and were drawn by reports of assistance to armed resistance coming from other countries. In presenting the history of the little-known Burma Democratic Front, which was based in Champhai in northeast India and provided recruits early on for the Chin National Front, I demonstrate that this narrative is inadequate in three main ways. First, while some of those who joined the Chin armed resistance fled to escape arrest, the security situation varied between different places and fear of arrest was not the main determinant for many of them in the decision to leave Myanmar. Leaving Myanmar to India was also sometimes not the only option for those fearing arrest. Second, many of those who ended up in the Chin armed resistance went to India to find work or for other reasons unrelated to armed struggle. Third, relationships with others (based on kinship or participation together in university student groups or high-risk activism), and/or active recruitment by others (sometimes previously known to the individual being recruited, sometimes not), were often extremely important for the decision to go to India or join the armed resistance.