Political Burmanization: The Rise of the Taingyintha to National Identity in Myanmar

Authors: Kaitlin Stewart*,
Topics: Asia, Ethnic Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: Myanmar, Burma, Human Geography, Ethnicity, Human Rights
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 24
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Religious and ethnic persecution have defined Myanmar's political actions since the death of Aung San in 1947. Attempting to create a homogenous cultural landscape, the government of Myanmar began the process of creating a political national identity. The taingyintha, or national races, rapidly became the center of political definitions of Myanmar's identity. Used in propaganda and laws, these ethnicities have transcended citizenship and are now considered to be the definition of Myanmar itself. While religious and cultural conflicts play a factor in the formation of Myanmar's national identity, the taingyintha are the catalyst for most major internal conflicts in the country. Analyzing laws, military actions, and speeches made by political leaders of Myanmar illustrates not only that the initial impetus for the national identity of Myanmar was a political one, but also that the first independent government of Myanmar was vital in creating the foundation for the national identity that the later military regimes would build upon.

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