Myanmar in the Fifteenth Century: A Tale of Two Kingdoms
Michael A. Aung-Thwin
When the great kingdom of Pagan declined politically in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, its territory devolved into three centers of power and a period of transition occurred. Then two new kingdoms arose: the First Ava Dynasty in Upper Myanmar and the First Pegu Dynasty in Lower Myanmar. Both originated around the second half of the fourteenth century, reached their pinnacles in the fifteenth, and declined before the first half of the sixteenth century was over. Their story is the only missing piece in Myanmar’s mainstream historiography, a gap this book is designed to fill.Renowned historian Michael Aung-Thwin reconstructs the chronology of this nearly two-hundred-year period while challenging a number of long-held beliefs. Contrary to conventional histories, he contends that Ava was the continuation of an old kingdom (Pagan) led by its traditional ethno-linguistic group, the Burmese speakers, while Pegu was a new kingdom led by more recent arrivals, the Mon speakers. Although both kingdoms shared many cultural components of the “classical” Pagan tradition, Ava was inland and agrarian, while Pegu was maritime and commercial, so that each was shaped by very different geopolitical and economic environments. In that difference rests the dynamism of their “upstream-downstream” relationship, which, thereafter, became a regular historical pattern in Myanmar history, represented today by in-land Naypyidaw and “coastal” Yangon.
Original in conception and impressive in scope, this well written book not only fills in the history of early modern Myanmar but places it in a broad interpretive context based on years of familiarity with a wealth of primary sources. Full of arresting anecdotes and colorful personalities, it represents an important contribution to Myanmar studies that will not easily be superseded.
Learning, Migration and Intergenerational Relations: The Karen and the Gift of Education
Focusing on the Karen people in Burma, Thailand and the United Kingdom, this book analyses how global, regional and local developments affect patterns of learning. It combines historical and ethnographic research to explore the mutual shaping of intergenerational relations and children’s practical and formal learning within a context of migration and socio-political change. In this endeavour, Pia Jolliffe discusses traditional patterns of socio-cultural learning within Karen communities as well as the role of Christian missionaries in introducing schooling to the Karen in Burma and in Thailand. This is followed by an analysis of children’s migration for education in northern Thailand where state schools often encourage students’ aspirations towards upward social mobility at the same time as schools reproduce social inequality between the rural Karen and urban Thai society. The author draws attention to international humanitarian agencies who deliver education to refugees and migrants at the Thai-Burma border, as well as the role of UK government schools in the process of resettling Karen refugees. In this way, the book analyses the connections between learning, migration and intergenerational relations in households, schools and other institutions at the local, regional and global level.
Chinese in Colonial Burma: A Migrant Community in A Multiethnic State
Using previously unexplored archives from colonial institutions and individuals, and primary materials produced by the Burmese Chinese, this comprehensive study investigates over a century of history of the Burmese Chinese under British colonial rule. Due to the peculiar position of Burma in the British imperial world and the Southeast Asian Chinese network, the Chinese community had a unique experience in a Southeast Asian colony governed by Europeans with an India-based system. This book reveals, through everyday life experience, prominent community figures, and milestone events, the internal rivalry and integration among different regional groups within the community, and the general impressions it left in contemporary observations and communal memories. The book also traces historical roots of some unsolved ethnic issues in present-day Myanmar.
Caretaking Democratization: The Military and Political Change in Myanmar
This book examines the political landscape that took shape in Myanmar after the 2010 elections and the subsequent transition from direct military rule to a quasi-civilian ‘hybrid’ regime. Striking political, social, and economic transformations have indeed taken place in the long-isolated country since the military junta was disbanded in March 2011. To better construe – and question – what has routinely been labelled a ‘Burmese Spring’, Egreteau examines the reasons behind the ongoing political transition, as well as the role of the Burmese armed forces in that process, drawing on in-depth interviews with Burmese political actors, party leaders, parliamentarians and retired army officers. The study also takes its cue from comparative scholarship on civil-military relations and post-authoritarian politics, to look at the ‘praetorian’ logic explaining the transitional moment. Myanmar’s road to democratic change is, however, still paved with daunting obstacles. As the book suggests, the continuing military intervention in domestic politics, the resilience of bureaucratic, economic and political clientelism at all levels of society, the iconification of Aung San Suu Kyi, the shadowy influence of regional and global powers, as well as enduring concerns about interethnic and interreligious relations, all are strong reminders of the series of elemental conundrums with which Myanmar will have to deal in order to achieve democratization, sustainable development and peace.
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