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International Burma Studies Conference 2014

 


ABOUT

The Myanmar Studies Programme at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore partnered with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the NUS Law Faculty’s Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS) to convene the biennale International Burma Studies Conference (BSC) 2014 in Singapore on 1-3 August 2014. ISEAS and FASS-NUS served as the main organisers, with ISEAS taking the lead coordination and administrative role. ISEAS, FASS-NUS and CALS all agreed to contribute SG$20,000 each to support the BSC 2014’s main administrative and logistics costs.

In recognition of the reforms in Myanmar which, starting from March 2011 to date, had encouraged and generated greater interest in Myanmar/Burma Studies, the theme for the BSC 2014 was identified as “Envisioning Myanmar: Issues, Images, Identities”. The theme recognises the various ways in which the country’s past, present and future are conceptualised and envisioned by scholars, stakeholders and other social groups within and outside Myanmar.

To highlight the theme, the BSC2014 organisers decided to convene Opening and Closing Panels for the conference rather than invite a single Keynote Speaker. The Opening and Closing Panel speakers comprised academics and practitioners from a wide range of policy and civil society organisations:

Opening Panel:
  • Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing, Myanmar Peace Centre

  • Dr Ma Thida, Public Intellectual

  • Dr Thant Myint-U, Chairman, Yangon Heritage Trust

  • Dr Zaw Oo, Presidential Economic Advisor

 
Closing Panel:
  • U Than Swe, Union Deputy Minister for Culture

  • U Kyaw Win, Public Intellectual and member of the Political, Economic and Legal Commission at Myanmar’s Amyotha Hluttaw (National Assembly)

  • U Zeya Thu, Deputy Chief Editor, The Voice Weekly

  • Dr Tin Maung Maung Than, Senior Research Fellow and coordinator of the Myanmar Studies Programme at ISEAS​


Over 250 registered participants attended the BSC 2014 over its three-day duration. Overall, the conference substance and organisation received positive feedback. Some conference participants felt that the conference registration fee (SG$300) was high, although the fee was comparable to the conference fee set for the BSC2012 at Northern Illinois University. The next BSC is scheduled for 2016 at Northern Illinois University, following the alternate rotation schedule. Australia National University has indicated an interest to host the BSC in 2018, subject to confirmation at the next BSC.

Generous sponsors supporting the BSC2014 include: the Asia Foundation, Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd, Dr Saw Swee Hock, and Dr Baey Lian Peck. The Hanns Siedel Foundation sponsored some conference session speakers and has confirmed its interest to support the publication of an edited volume of the BSC2014 presentations that address the BSC2014 theme. The Tun Foundation Bank sponsored the conference bags. Sponsors and partners logos are also featured prominently on the BSC2014 conference website.

The BSC2014 attracted more scholars and students from Myanmar and from around the region, including Myanmar’s neighbouring countries such as India where interest in Myanmar/Burma studies is growing again. Most of the conference panel discussions were focused around the current reforms, the atmosphere and environment created by these reforms for change and further opening. The Rohingya issue was extensively discussed in various contexts – historical, political and anthropological. Discussions on the legal framework (or lack thereof) and the 2008 Constitution also drew considerable interest, including from U Soe Thane, Minister in the Myanmar President’s office. Minister Soe Thane attended the sessions related to the Constitution, taking the opportunity of his presence in Singapore for the 7th ASEAN-Asia Forum which took place on 1 August 2014.


PROGRAMME DETAILS

1st August 2014
Opening Plenary
Opening Remarks
  • Professor Wang Gungwu, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

  • Professor Brenda Yeoh, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore

  • Professor Andrew Harding, Head, Centre for Asian Legal Studies, National University of Singapore

Opening Panel: Myanmar Today
  • Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing, Myanmar Peace Centre

  • Dr Zaw Oo, Presidential Advisor (Economic) and Head, Centre for Economic and Social Development, Myanmar Development Resource Institute

  • Dr Thant Myint-U, Chair, Yangon Heritage Trust

  • Dr Ma Thida, Public Intellectual

Panels of the Day

Panel 1 - The Economy I

Panel 2 - Reforms and Transition I

Panel 3 - Changing Relations Between Myanmar, the US, and China

Panel 4 - Ceramics of Myanmar: Connections and Interactions

Panel 5 - Ethnic Issues I

Panel 6 - Law, Identity & Rights in Myanmar

Panel 7 - Movie: Ché Phawadaw Nu Nu (Tender is the Foot)

Panel 8 - Civil Society

Panel 9 - History, Memories, Heritage I

Panel 10 - Media in Transition

Panel 11 - Movie: Ché Phawadaw Nu Nu (continued) and Documentary "Behind the Scenes" on the Movie

Panel 12 - Music and the Performing Arts

2nd August 2014
Panels of the Day

Panel 13 - The Economy II

Panel 14 - Reforms and Transition II

Panel 15 - Young Researchers' Panel

Panel 16 - The 2008 Constitution in Practice

Panel 17 - Ethnic Issues II

Panel 18 - History, Memories, Heritage II

Panel 19 - Myanmar in Asia Pacific

Panel 20 - Creative Dissent: Art and Politics in Myanmar

Panel 21 - Society I

Panel 22 - Talking Back to Colonial Conceptual Inheritance I

Panel 23 - Migrants' Views and Expectations

Panel 24 - Conserving and Sharing Burma's Heritage I

Panel 25 - Society II

Panel 26 - Talking Back to Colonial Conceptual Inheritance II

Panel 27 - Religion and Politics in Contemporary Myanmar/Burma

Panel 28 - Conserving and Sharing Burma's Heritage II

3rd August 2014
Closing Plenary
Closing Panel: Vision for Myanmar
  • U Than Swe, Union Deputy Minister of Culture, Myanmar

  • U Kyaw Win, Editor-in-Chief, The Waves Magazine; and Member, Political, Economic and Legal Commission of Amyotha Hlutthaw, Myanmar

  • Mr Zeya Thu, Deputy Chief Editor, The Voice Daily

  • Dr Tin Maung Maung Than, ISEAS Senior Research Fellow and Coordinator of the Myanmar Studies Programme at ISEAS

Closing Remarks 
  • Dr Maitrii Aung-Thwin, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore

  • Ms Moe Thuzar, ISEAS Fellow

Panels of the Day

Panel 29 - The Economy III

Panel 30 - Reforms and Transition III

Panel 31 - Myanmar and South Asia

Panel 32 - Myanmar/Burma in History: The Past Informing the Present I

Panel 33 - Ethnic Issues III

Panel 34 - Myanmar/Burma in History: The Past Informing the Present II

Panel 35 - Political and Cultural Tectonics - Ethnic Nationalities in Shan State

Panel 36 - Language and Culture I

Panel 37 - Urban Heritage

Panel 38 - Myanmar/Burma in History: The Past Informing the Present III

Panel 39 - The Fabric of Identity: Textiles and Clothing

Panel 40 - Language and Culture II

 

PANEL ABSTRACTS

Please note that some panels span across sessions.

 Panel Number  Panel Topics  Download Link
 1, 13, 29  The Economy  Click here
 2, 14, 30  Reforms and Transition  Click here
 3  Changing Relations Between Myanmar, the US, and China  Click here
 4  Ceramics of Myanmar: Connections and Interactions  Click here
 5, 17, 33  Ethnic Issues  Click here
 6  Law, Identity & Rights in Myanmar  Click here
 7, 11  Movie: Ché Phawadaw Nu Nu (Tender is the Foot)  
 8  Civil Society  Click here
 9, 18  History, Memories, Heritage  Click here
 10  Media in Transition  Click here
 12  Music and the Performing Arts  Click here
 15  Young Researchers' Panel  Click here
 16  The 2008 Constitution in Practice  Click here
 19  Myanmar in the Asia Pacific  Click here
 20  Creative Dissent: Art and Politics in Myanmar  Click here
 21, 25  Society  Click here
 22, 26  Talking Back to Colonial Conceptual Inheritance  Click here
 23  Migrants' Views and Expectations  Click here
 24, 28  Conserving and Sharing Burma's Heritage  Click here
 31  Myanmar and South Asia  Click here
 32, 34, 38  Myanmar/Burma in History: The Past Informing the Present  Click here
 35  Political and Cultural Tectonics: Ethnic Nationalities in Shan State  Click here
 36, 40   Language and Culture  Click here
 37  Urban Heritage  Click here
 39  The Fabric of Identity: Textiles and Clothing  Click here

PHOTOGRAPHS

Click here to view photos of the event.