Bookshelf Spotlight: Burma and Its Borders

Featured Books

* Burma Redux: Global Justice and the
 Quest for Political Reform in Myanmar
* State and Society in Modern Rangoon
* Ruling Myanmar: From Cyclone Nargis to National Elections
* Spreading the Dhamma: Writing, Orality, and Textual Transmission in Buddhist Northern Thailand
* Dynamics of Cross Border Industrial Development in Mekong Sub-region: A Case Study of Thailand
* The Last Paradise on Earth: The Vanishing Peoples & Wilderness of Northern Burma

Burma Redux: Global Justice and the
 Quest for Political Reform in Myanmar

by Ian Holliday
Hong Kong University Press, 2011

Contemporary Myanmar faces immense political challenges, and the role outsiders might play in dealing with them is highly contentious. Drawing on views expressed by local citizens, Burma Redux argues for committed strategies of grassroots involvement that engage international aid agencies, global corporations and foreign states. The wide-ranging discussion positions Myanmar’s history, contemporary politics and social circumstances within broader discussions of global justice, democratic transitions, the aid business, corporate social responsibility and international sanctions.

Hong Kong U. Press

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State and Society in Modern Rangoon

by Donald M. Seekins
Routledge, 2010

While most of Asia’s major cities are increasingly homogenized by rapid economic growth and cultural globalization, Rangoon, which is Burma’s former capital and largest city, still bears the imprint of a unique and often turbulent history. It is the site of the Shwedagon Pagoda, a focus of Buddhist pilgrimage and devotion since the early second millennium C.E. that continues to play a major role in national life. In 1852, the British occupied Rangoon and made it their colonial capital, building a modern port and administrative center based on western designs. It became the capital of independent Burma in 1948, but in 2005 the State Peace and Development Council military junta established a new, heavily fortified capital at Naypyidaw, 320 kilometers north of the old capital. A major motive for the capital relocation was the regime’s desire to put distance between itself and Rangoon’s historically restive population. Reacting to the huge anti-government demonstrations of “Democracy Summer” in 1988, the new military regime used massive violence to pacify the city and sought to transform it in line with its supreme goal of state security. However, the “Saffron Revolution” of September 2007 showed that Rangoon’s traditions of resistance reaching back to the colonial era are still very much alive.

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Ruling Myanmar: From Cyclone Nargis to National Elections

by Nick Cheesman, Monique Skidmore and Trevor Wilson (eds)
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2010

November 2010 sees the first elections in Myanmar/Burma since 1990, to be held as the culmination of the military regime’s ‘Road Map for Democracy’ The conditions under which the elections are being held are far from favourable, although the laws and procedures under which they will be conducted have been in place for seven months and quite widely publicized. Political controls remain repressive, freedom of expression and assembly does not exist, and international access is restricted by government controls as well as sanctions. While the elections represent a turning point for Myanmar/Burma, the lead-up period has not been marked by many notable improvements in the way the country is governed or in the reforming impact of international assistance programmes. Presenters at the Australian National University 2009 Myanmar/Burma Update conference examined these questions and more. Leading experts from the United States, Japan, France, and Australia as well as from Myanmar/Burma have conributed to this collection of papers from the Conference.

Goodreads | Amazon | ISEAS Publishing

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Spreading the Dhamma: Writing, Orality, and Textual Transmission in Buddhist Northern Thailand

By Daniel Veidlinger
University of Hawaii Press, 2006

How did early Buddhists actually encounter the seminal texts of their religion? What were the attitudes held by monks and laypeople toward the written and oral Pali traditions? In this pioneering work, Daniel Veidlinger explores these questions in the context of the northern Thai kingdom of Lan Na. Drawing on a vast array of sources, including indigenous chronicles, reports by foreign visitors, inscriptions, and palm-leaf manuscripts, he traces the role of written Buddhist texts in the predominantly oral milieu of northern Thailand from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

Veidlinger examines how the written word was assimilated into existing Buddhist and monastic practice in the region, considering the use of manuscripts for textual study and recitation as well as the place of writing in the cultic and ritual life of the faithful. He shows how manuscripts fit into the economy, describes how they were made and stored, and highlights the understudied issue of the “cult of the book” in Theravâda Buddhism. Looking at the wider Theravâda world, Veidlinger argues that manuscripts in Burma and Sri Lanka played a more central role in the preservation and dissemination of Buddhist texts.

Goodreads | Amazon | UH Press

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Dynamics of Cross Border Industrial Development in Mekong Sub-region: A Case Study of Thailand

By Chuthatip Maneepong
LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 2010

An important strategy for turning the periphery of border area into centre of growth, and for accelerating economic concentration away from capital cities is maximizing the value of border location. Large-scale industry located in border areas and relocated to border towns has a growth potential by exploiting the location advantages of the abundant and cheap labour force in peripheral area, as well as cross border infrastructure services with the support of ethic ties between two adjoining countries. This theory has been successfully applied in several cross border areas, e.g. the US-Mexico border zone, and Singapore-Johor-Riau Growth Triangle zone. It is not matter of whether policies supporting the industrial development in border towns are right or wrong. This book raises the question of whether they are applicable, feasible and effective in less developed border region with a majority of small and medium-scale industries such as in Thai border towns, especially during times like the Asian Economic Crisis. The book thus discusses: what produces entrepreneurs and how do they operate?, What are advantages of border locations for entrepreneurs?, What are impact of government investments and other measures? What other factors contribute to and hinder industrial establishment and growth in border towns, and how?.

Amazon

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The Last Paradise on Earth: The Vanishing Peoples & Wilderness of Northern Burma

By Wade Brackenbury
Flame of The Forest Publishing, 2005

Since independence from Britain in 1948, Burma has been plagued by civil war and ethnic conflict. These bitter struggles have led to the loss of thousands of lives. In Kachin state, nestled at the foot of the Himalaya in the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy River, the people indigenous to this region seem blissfully unaware of the strife beyond their river shores. They live peacefully in a lush and virgin environment, protected by its inaccessibility and untouched by modernization, in what the author considers the last paradise on earth. This photographic diary of the author’s extensive travels to this region allows us a privileged glimpse into a very special world where the inhabitants and the landscape are touchingly different from our own.

Goodreads | Amazon | Flame of the Forest Publishing

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