Modern Burma Studies: A Survey of the Field

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Selth, Andrew
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Joya Chatterji
Date
2010
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Abstract

Burma has never been a popular subject for academic research but, since a massive pro-democracy uprising drew worldwide attention to the country in 1988, the number of scholars and students engaged in the field has grown considerably. However, they still face a number of major challenges. Along with other kinds of area studies, Burma studies have been accused by academics from the more 'scientific' disciplines of being too narrowly focused and lacking theoretical rigour. Also, it has been difficult to conduct research in Burma's closed society. While the latest military government has relaxed some controls, field work is still constrained and reliable sources are hard to find. Often, the knowledge gap has been filled by myths and misconceptions. Adding to these problems, since 1988 the Burma studies community has become highly polarised, with political and moral factors often featuring more prominently in the public debate than considered arguments based on objective analysis. All these factors have adversely affected modern Burma studies and restricted understanding of this deeply troubled country by both scholars and the wider community.

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Modern Asian Studies
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44
Issue
2
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© 2010 Cambridge University Press. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
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International Relations
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