Plural Pasts for Collective Futures in Burma/Myanmar:
Histories of Belonging and Identities (Re)Imagined

Workshop Dates: 28 & 29 August 2023

Organized by 

Alicia Turner
Associate Professor,
Humanities and Religious Studies

Hitomi Fujimura
Post Doctoral Fellow Japan Society for the Promotion of Science,
YCAR and Osaka University

For information contact

In the context of global uprisings against repression, Burma/Myanmar has been in the midst of a political revolution since a military coup overturned democratic elections in February 2021. Embodying the same spirit of protest as the Milk Tea Movement across Asia and protests in Iran, a generation took to the streets in Burma to reject the military takeover. These new leaders are trying to rethink the fractures of identity and belonging to create a new way forward. The cynicism of the military’s exploitation of ethnic and religious differences created a public reversal of the Bamar Buddhist nationalism that had demonized Muslims and racialized others as a threat to the nation. The response to the coup has opened new space for embracing the plurality of ethnic, religious, and racialized identities that make up Burma.

The current situation calls for a critical reconsideration of scholarly reflection on the ways in which we understand how people have identified themselves and others and how they developed mutual relationships. Searching for a new understanding of the present cannot be complete without reconfiguring the past. This proposal aims to enhance our understanding of the country’s past through collaboration with established and emerging scholars specializing in religion, ethnicity, and identity issues.

We will achieve this goal by holding a two-day workshop in late August 2023 and publishing the outcomes. With participants from Burma and Japan, this collaborative workshop will advance intellectual knowledge of the historical process in which different communities (re)imagined the sense of belonging. The collaboration aims to reach a more nuanced understanding of the multi-faceted sense of belonging and identity makings in Burma. We will then publish our manuscripts in the form of a bilingual journal special issue and a bilingual public-facing forum of research briefs, making the achievements accessible to the public.