Turmoil in Burma: contested legitimacies in Myanmar

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EastBridge, 2006 - Political Science - 326 pages
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Few states in the contemporary world present the complexities that characterize Burma/Myanmar at present. On the one hand, it has been under military rule for some forty-four years at this point, with many traditional factors in operation: an high degree of authoritarianism; the dominance of personalization over institutions; powerful centrism, but with a progressive weakening as the distance from the center lengthens; and the importance of religion as a source of identity. Those who govern Myanmar have given ample indication in recent times of a desire to interact with diverse international bilateral and multilateral operations. Yet Burma/Myanmar nationalism has contained a xenophobic quality emphasized on occasion, a proclivity that is more conducive to isolation than to cooperation. In this context, the movement of the capitol from Rangoon to Pyinmana in the interior, while proclaimed as a move to provide easier access to all parts of Myanmar raises questions. Moreover, as was demonstrated recently, in the face of strong opposition, Myanmar was prepared to give up its scheduled chairmanship of ASEAN rather than to change its domestic political policies. Under the circumstances, it is fortunate to have a highly regarded scholar who has spent many years undertaking in-depth studies of Burma/Myanmar as well as other parts of East Asia, with a history of friendships and research in the region, provide us with an up-to-date analysis. David Steinberg presents a broad picture of the complex scene, commencing with a presentation of key theoretical and historical considerations, and proceeding to an analysis of various specifics relating to the current Burma/Myanmar society and state. His analysis is comprehensive and balanced, taking into account the many complexities and uncertainties of this troubled state. We are indeed fortunate to have this work available. from the Foreword by Robert A. Scalapino

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Dramatis Personae
Setting the Stage

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About the author (2006)

David I. Steinberg is Distinguished Professor of Asian Studies and Director of Asian Studies, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He previously served as co-director of the Korean Area Studies program of the School of Foreign Service, Representative of The Asia Foundation in Korea (1963-68; 1994-97); Distinguished Professor of Korea Studies, Georgetown University; and President of the Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs. Early in his career, as a member of the Senior Foreign Service with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) of the U.S. Department of State, he worked extensively on development in Asia and the Middle East serving as Director for technical assistance in Asia and the Middle East, Director for Philippine, Thailand, and Burma Affairs. During this period he spent three years in Thailand with the USAID Regional Development Office. Before joining USAID, Steinberg was Representative of The Asia Foundation in Korea and Washington, DC, and Assistant Representative in Burma and Hong Kong. He has resided for seventeen years in Asia and has travelled and lectured widely throughout the region. Mr. Steinberg is the author of over ninety articles and twelve books and monographs, including. Burma: The State of Myanmar (2001) and The Republic of Korea: Economic Transformation and Social Change (1989). David I. Steinberg was educated at Dartmouth College, Lingnan University (Canton, China), Harvard University, and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

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