Birma,Polecane

Squaring the Burmese Circle. The Genesis of Core-Periphery Antagonism in Burma

myanmar3

caspermoller/CCBY

Burma[1] is a multinational and multicultural country that consists of 129 nations. However, only 68% of them are Burmese (Bamar/Burman). 1/3 of the country’s territory is inhabited by non-Burmese ethnic groups (such as Shan, Mon, Arakan and so forth). They’re lands were incorporated into Burma in the times of the III Burmese Empires. During colonial times, crucial for the Burmese identity, they were administrated separately from “Burma proper”. Therefore they present different (from the Bamar majority) view of national history, different culture and different attitude towards Burma. For many the Bamar majority is considered alien or even occupant, and some (e.g. Karen) keep on trying to win independence (or at least autonomy).  This is why the ethnic conflict in Burma (civil war) is the longest- running armed conflict in the world. The military junta, in power since 1962, has rejected the “federal” project of Burma and is trying to implement the policy of so called “Burmanisation” which main aim is to assimilate the minorities; by force, if needed. The minorities respond to that threat on various ways (e.g. emigration, but also: armed struggle). Consequently, Burma is facing political antagonism, between the Core (represented by Bamar majority, Burmese culture, imperial patterns) and the Periphery (non –Bamar, different patterns of history, cultures, and, often, religion). It is this antagonism, not the violating of human rights, lack of democracy, or external isolation, that is the main political problem of modern Burma. To understand why it is so crucial for Burma, one must go back to its roots, to history.

In this research we will follow Immanuel Wallerstein’s concept of “core and periphery”[2]. Wellerstein implies those categories to world system (the core representing the West and the periphery – the developing countries)[3] . We, on the other hand, will modify it to make it more suitable in Burmese conditions. Therefore in this research the “core” (“center”) will represent the dominant and ruling Burmese (Bamar) identity, culture and mentality, whereas “periphery” will be understood as the Burma’s ethnic minorities.

Nowadays Burma has a population of about 56 million[4], however these estimations are not clear because the last census (partial only) was conducted in 1983[5]. The country is home to four major language families: Sino-Tibetan (Burmese, Karen, Kachin, Chin and Chinese); Kradai (Shan); Austroasiatic (Mon, Palaung and Wa) and Indo-European (Pali and English)[6].  The government claims that there are 135 national groups in Burma, however, according to U Min Naing, the actual number is 129[7]. Nevertheless, it’s a huge number! That is why Professor Bogdan Góralczyk is perfectly right when calling Burma the “Babel of nations”[8].

The Burmese Government groups the ethnic minorities into 8 “major national ethnic races” and further subdivides them into 67 subgroups[9]. The largest ethnic minorities are: Shan (9%), Karen (7%), Arakanese (3,5%), Mon (2%) and Kachin (1,5%)[10]. The minorities are in general inhabiting the very little populated, underdeveloped and difficult to access frontiers, whereas the Bamar majority lives predominantly in the middle of Burma (in the Irrawaddy Plain – country’s “rice basket”). Those two groups for centuries had little in common, didn’t mix, and lived separately. Only the Burmese conquest brought them together. These are the geographical factors of the core-periphery antagonism.

However, the most important factors are historical ones, combined with cultural.

The most important historical factor is that for the minorities the history of Burma is an alien one. Some of the ethnic minorities had their own states before, like Mon or Arakan (which were destroyed by Burmese kings), the others lived on their own: paid tribute to a far-away monarch, who didn’t interfere into their village life. But none of them had considered Burma as their country. For example Mon state, the oldest in the region, and the first one to bring Theravada Buddhism into today’s Burma[11], was alternately conquered by various Burmese kings (when Burma was strong), and got liberated from them (when Burma was weak). This chain was ended by Alungpaya, the founder of the III Burmese Empire, who finally annihilated Mon’s capital: Pegu in 1757, by burning it to the ground and killing all citizens[12]. The other example, Arakan, used to be separate kingdom as well – until the Burmese conquer put in into ashes in 1784. The invading army took  away Arakan’s most precious Buddha image (Mahamuni) – an icon of Arakan sovereignty and identity. This broke the Arakanese spirit and marks the symbolic end of Arakan state[13]. For Mon and the Arakanese the Burmese conquer was the end of centuries on independence. The Shans were little bit more lucky: they were also forced to subordinate, but thanks to geographical reasons they kept the autonomy of the sawbwa princes.

In the end of XVIII century almost all of the present-day minorities got into Burma as the result of Burmese Empire’s conquests. The consequences were that “Burma and Burmese patriotism were now in full flight. The Burmese saw themselves as an all-conquering race, destined to hold neighboring peoples in subjugation”[14]. The British colonialism quickly destroyed those dreams.  After the subsequent III Burmese Wars (1824/5, 1852 and 1885) the British Empire colonized Burma and incorporated it into India. Burma was not even to be a colony of its own but a part of hated India. Moreover, the British erased all symbols of Burmese identity: “The Burmese now longer had their kings and princes, soldiers and officials (…) the commissioners and judges, the businessmen and bankers, or even the shopkeepers and factory workers (these jobs were taken by Indians-M.L.). What was modern in the new Burma was alien”[15]. John Furnivall compared the British occupation with the metaphor of devouring Leviathan[16]. George Orwell described it more cynically, “Of course it is the lie that we’re here to uplift our poor black brothers instead of to rob them”[17].

For the Burmese, colonialism was the one of the darkest and the most humiliating period in the history. The Burmese as a whole never accepted the conquest, and a nationalist spirit existed throughout the whole of the British period. The Burmese have never stopped to perceive the British as political adversaries[18]. The national minorities were, however, the exception: “they regarded the British as liberators from Burman rule”[19]. Indeed, the British were, somehow, their protectors.

The conquered Burma was divided into two categories: “the Proper Burma” ( inhabited by the Bamar majority) and Burma Frontier Province – consisted of the tribal lands: Shan’s, Kachin’s, Chin’s and so forth. There the British rule was more symbolical than real. The Shan states, for example, were ruled by sawbwa prices: “the British were able to get many of these leaders to accept their authority in exchange for a promise not to interfere with local customs and the chiefs’ taxing powers over their subjects”[20]. During much of the British period, “the writ of central state in the more remote areas amounted to little more than periodic ‘flag marches’ in which the symbol of state supremacy was displayed and the promise of punishment for unruly behavior was made”[21]. As Justin Wintle put it, “the aim was to administer the Frontier Areas at as small a cost as possible – let the sleeping dogs lie”[22].

For the ethnic minorities that was a perfect situation: nobody bothered them, the British didn’t interfere into village affairs and were much more bearable than the Burmese. Consequently, the minorities started to support the colonial administration.

This was particularly true to the Karen. As the Burmese were unwilling to recognize the colonial regime, somebody had to replace them. The Karen were happy to do it, and consequently, the colonial Imperial Burmese Army consisted mainly of them (and Indians).

There was one more reason to cooperate: religion.

Ethnic minorities, contrary to Bamar majority, were much more open to Christian conversion. Before animist, they’ve chosen Christianity out of several reasons: to some it resembled their own customs  (some, like Karens, Kayins and the Kachins had their own stories of a great flood and a woman being created from the rib of a man; a big god called Y’wa, and a tradition that messenger from across the seas would one day bring them “the lost book”…. )[23]; to others it was a good alternative to Burmese Buddhism; others just accepted it thanks to successful missionary work – and mixed it with own traditions. Finally, it was the religion of the winners, who proved to be stronger than their eternal enemies – Bamar.  So, majority of ethnic minorities became Christian and came to associate British rule and cooperate with the British with a better life and future. The British were more than satisfied: the policy of giving favor to the ethnic minorities was a perfect example of “rule and divide” strategy[24]. This, however, was the main source of soon-to come problem: “employment patterns reinforced Burman resentment. Having ruled the roosts for so long, it was humiliating to have to look up to those whom the Burman was culturally conditioned to look down upon”[25]. Moreover, thanks to the missionaries and new opportunities, some minorities, like Karens, “gained not only a distinctive identity but also a distinctive religion… thus nationalism developed hand in hand[26]”.

The Bamar saw British colonialism as “the military occupation of a hostile country”[27], consequently the Burmese national movement, born in the 1920s, was from the very beginning deeply etched into ethnic Burmese nationalism. Their ideas of independence “were interpreted in the context of Burmese culture”[28]. That was the only pattern the Burmese could follow. For the same reason the ethnic minorities found it impossible to accept. As a result, “a militant ethnic Burmese nationalism was taking stage, nearly half the country excluded from ongoing constitutionals reforms, a rival Karen nationalism calling for a separate state (…) and the minds of British policy makers, as usual, focused elsewhere. Colonial rule had left a legacy of distrust and the inability of many in the Burmese elite to see that Burma was home not just to the stereotypical Burmese Buddhist but to many different peoples and cultures”[29]. As Thant Myint U concluded, it is the colonial period when “the seeds of later conflict were being laid”[30].

When the WWII was approaching, the Bamar saw their chance in cooperation with Japan[31], whereas minorities remained loyal to the British. The second stage of this drama has started when the Japanese army entered Burma in 1942 along with Burmese Independent Army (BIA; units of the Burmese patriots trained and equipped by the Japanese). For the ethnic minorities “the BIA was very much a nationalist ethnic Burmese force, and the sight of armed Burmese in uniform, after more than a lifetime of colonial occupation, had ignited strong passions”[32]. Soon violence broke up and only the regular Japanese army could stop the bloodsheds between Burmans and Karen in the south. In the north Japanese had maintained a system of ‘indirect’ rule similar to that of the British. The Shan sawbwas individually came to terms with the Japanese and in the process succeeded in ensuring the troops did not enter their domains[33]. Moreover, the most eastern Shan State, Kengtung, was ceded to Thailand[34]. Consequently, the Shan state “were nominally under the control of central (Burmese) administration, they remained under Japanese military control”[35].  So, in practice, the Japanese maintained the same system of governance as the British: separately for Burmans (under “Burmese” de iure, but puppet de facto, administration), and separately for the ethnic minorities. Nevertheless, “the genie had been let out of the bottle”[36].

Some of the ethnic minorities remained loyal to the British and fought on their side in as guerilla fighters (e.g. supporting the Chindicts[37]). This was particularly true to the Kachins who proved to be excellent fighters: “for the Japanese, the tenacious Kachin fighters were to be greatly feared, and the constant threat of ambush in the mountains sliced away at their confidence. For every Kachin casualty, the were able to inflict twenty five on the enemy”[38]. The Kachins are the best example, but we can generalize that the majority of the ethnic minorities was favoring one way or another the British resistance and distrusting the Burmese whom they saw as collaborating with the Japanese[39]. The Allies’ propaganda during WWII also played a role: it represented the BIA as Burmese nationalists and collaborators, thus arising and rationalizing the independence aspirations of the minorities[40]. Kachins or Karen, who “proven loyalty naturally later expected loyalty from the British Raj in return”[41]. That was the potential for postwar troubles.

In the meantime the Burmese (BIA) realized that the Japanese are nothing more but another colonizer: “it soon become clear that the Japanese promise that Burma would be independent was an illusion. Japanese atrocities against the Burmese soon changed popular sentiment”[42]. As BIA’s leader Aung San described: “I went to Japan to save my people who were struggling like bullocks under the British. But now we are treated like dogs. We are far from our hope of reaching the human stage, and even to get back to the bullock stage we need to straggle more”[43]. So Aung San, whose only goal was the independence of Burma, has turned sides, renamed BIA Antifascist League (AFPFL) and on March 27 joined forces with the British. Although for many British generals Aung San was a traitor, Lous Mountbatten commander-in-chief of Southeast Asia, chose to cooperate with him in order to secure the victory[44]. Soon the war was over. But the problems remained.

Aung San and his League was the strongest political force in post-war Burma.  Although the British had tried to restore the pre-war colonial regime (“The White Paper” policy[45]), it was no longer possible. For Aung San only independence mattered, come what may[46]. He was a very skilful politician, representing what Wiktor Ostasz calls a “cynical patriotism”[47]: the ability to deal with anyone regardless of ideology in good of Burma’s independence. He fulfilled his dream: after a long negotiations with the British, he achieved independence’ guarantee in January 1947 by signing an agreement with Prime Minister Atlee (“Atlee-Aung San Agreement”). According to his agreement Burma will be independent by 1948, under federal administration and under the minorities’ “voluntary concord”[48]. The British under Atlee’s government didn’t interfere into Burmese road to independence under one reason: they hoped that a successful transformation of power here will be a showcase of British decolonization in Asia[49]. So, in the beginning of 1947 the main problem for Aung San was not with the British but with the minorities at home”[50].

The vision of independent Burma for many was unacceptable: “The leaders of various minority communities, especially the Christian Karen and the Shan sawbwas, were aware that their influence would be diminished if independence were won in the name of the Burmese nation-state, a thus they sought to mobilize support as a countervailing power to that of the state-centered nationalists”[51]. Some, like the Kachins “seemed in high spirit that the British would soon recognize their sacrifice, and other, like the Karens, insisted on a separate state, looking to the example of Pakistan”[52]. They  latter even have sent a mission to Westminster, but came back with nothing[53]. The most urgent challenge for Aung San was to convince people in the hill areas to join in the new deal. Bogdan Góralczyk is right when saying that “the national issue was the biggest political challenge for the to-be-born Union of Burma[54].

Responding to that challenge, Aung San has called a conference of the minorities’ leaders in the small town of Paglong (Shan States) in February 1947. There, working overtime, talking late into night with individual leaders in their huts, Aung San achieved compliance[55]. His proposed that the status of “Union State”, “Autonomous State” or “National Area” should be conferred on those territories that possessed the following characteristics: a defined geographical area with a character of its own, unity of language different from Burmese, unity of culture, community of historical traditions, community of economic interests and a measure of economic self-sufficiency, a fairly large population and a desire to maintain its distinct identity as a separate unit”[56]. The Shan, Kayin, Kachins, Chin and even Karen (who didn’t send the most important delegates) got their States within Burma, with “full autonomy of the frontier areas” (The Shan even had the financial autonomy)[57]. However, the minorities’ leaders accepted this compromise only conditionally. The main condition was that “after 10 years the minority states would have the legal right to secede from the Union of Burma[58]. Therefore “Burma would be the only British possession to gain independence with an option for a future breakup”[59].

Nevertheless, it was Aung San’s great success and a real breakthrough in the history of Burma and in the core-periphery relations: “never was there a more liberal political structure for the minorities than that proposed by Aung San”[60]. As Justin Wintle concludes, “no other Burman leader had ever proposed that Burma’s principal minority peoples should be allowed even a modicum of autonomy within their own land, or be given equal rights with the Burman majority. In the Burmese context, such proposals were revolutionary”[61]. Aung San and his federalized concept of Burma born in Panglong was a masterpiece of diplomacy and responsible governance. It seemed that Aung San had found a way in the core-periphery everlasting conflict. He was the one who could square the Burmese circle.

But soon he was killed[62] and the problems stroke back with full strength.

Aung San for Burma was irreplaceable, as he, and only he, was the only one who could connected the thin lines of Burma’s inner policy. His death brought disastrous consequences. The national and ethnic animosity, or as we call it, core-periphery antagonism, was reborn with full strength[63]. One after another the ethnic minorities started to demand rights for independence: Karen, Kayin, local sawbwpas in Shan States, Arakanese, Mon… The Aung San’s successor, U Nu, calmed the tensions by putting one of Shan’s sawbwa(named Sao Shwe Taike) into the office of the president of Burma. It helped only partially. The newly-born Union of Burma (proclaimed 4.01.1948) under the leadership of U Nu, was from the very beginning torn with difficulties. The lack of strong government, communists rebellion, Guomindang invasion after 1949, but above all the ethnic conflict, were the issues of the day. In January 1948 “half of the country was in the hands of one rebel fraction or another, trains and steamers stopped running, in places state emergency was declared”[64]. The situation was so serious that in 1948 and 1949 “there were periods when the writ of the government scarcely ran beyond Rangoon[65]. The most serious problem was with the Karens, who wanted no compromise and thought all-out independence was within their grasp: ‘like Laos’”[66]. They made alliance with Mon and Kachin forces (veterans of WWII) and together approached Rangoon in January 1949. , “if they had acted quickly, they might have combined forces and easily taken the capital”[67]. But they quarreled and the chance went by. Rangoon was saved, but state of Burma was still in ruins. Although the just won clash with the Karens was the most serious one in the civil war theater[68], the outlook of newly- born country looked gloomy: “Burma in 1950, the year the civil war ebbed away, was in shambles, and the war had been replaced, in many parts, by anarchy. The countryside was held by a patchwork of rebels and government loyalists, islands of government control in the sea of uncertain authority”[69].

In the moment of crises a new leader emerged: general Ne Win. In the past one of the thakins trained by Japanese, now he proved to be a good organizer and skilful commander. He used and developed the Japanese militaristic way of dealing with problems: by force[70]. He combined forces, and slowly, town by town, village by village, began to assert Burmese authority[71]. Thus the army prevented state from further disintegration[72]. In this moment of all-out despair, army remained the only force able to maintain order and to keep the state institutions. It was, as Ne Win called it, “the life and soul of Burma”[73]. It was the army who saved Burma. Without the army Burma would have collapsed, disintegrate or become “balkanized”. But this situation had its drawbacks: the army, built on Japanese patterns, a pillar of state during chaotic 1950s, with time gained the position of actual sovereignty within the country and dominated the political life of Burma[74]. In the conditions of inner chaos and government’s weakness the army took over the function of the leading political institution[75]. The rebel traditions and the constant threat of secession enabled the generals to strengthen the army’s position[76]. Furthermore, this has led to create a specific ideology where autonomous aspirations of the minorities and federalism as a whole, became in the eyes of the generals a symbol of aspirations leading to the destruction of the Union[77]. In general, “the army build a shadow state, and soon this shadow state seemed all that was necessary to meet the challenges ahead”[78].

But this happened later. In the 1950 s “there were two men who had pulled the country back from the brick that had averted an all-out disintegration of the country: Prime Minister U Nu and the armed forces commander in chief General Ne Win”[79]. We can add that U Nu did this by political means, whereas Ne Win by military (army was the only functioning well institution in Burma). Until they cooperated, Burma was functioning reasonably well and even achieved remarkable successes on the international stage in the 1950s . However, the order build in the beginning of 1950s has proven to be very fragile. Particularly because of one reason: the ethnic minorities issue.

Although Ne Win was able to restore control over majority of Burma’s territory, “the gun has never been taken away from Burmese politics”[80] and the government has never been able to maintain control over all lands. The Karen, although pushed back from Rangoon, Moulmein and the coastline, were still strong, and kept on guerilla fighting. After U Nu’s government finally draw the inner borders of Union’s States, the Karen State compromised only ¼ of the territory inhabited by Karens[81]. They never accepted that fact and till nowadays keep on fighting, which makes the conflict in Burma “the longest-running armed conflict in the world”[82].

In general, during the 1950s., the ethnic conflict, armed and violent in some places, simmering just below the surface in other. The other minorities expressed growing resentment towards army’s growing influence in Burma. As the year 1958 in which, according to constitution, Shans and Kayahs were given right to secede, was approaching, tensions increased. Particularly in 1959 when U Nu was replaced by “caretaker government” of general Ne Win. In the middle of 1959 Karens, Kayins, Mons, Chins and communist declared a united front against government[83]. Moreover, it was rumored that the Shan States would choose to secede from the Union under a clause in the 1947 constitution providing for such an option after ten years”[84]. Furthermore, it was said that they would allow the establishment of a US air base near the border with China[85]. Ne Win, felt obliged to act in order to preserve government integrity, responded with suspension of the constitution and confiscation of the sawbwa’s properties[86].  Afterwards he called a new conference with the sawbwa’s leaders in Taunggyi on the April 24th 1959. There, in exchange for sizeable pensions, payments and one, single unit – the Shan State[87], the sawbwas resigned from privileges and their autonomous power[88]. However, they continued to exercise a great deal of authority, guaranteeing continued political influence and safeguarding their traditional positions[89].

Upon U Nu’s return to power in February 1960, the relations between core and periphery further deteriorated, mainly because one decision. U Nu, generally sympathetic with the minorities opinions, made a huge political mistake by proclaiming Buddhism as a national religion: “it aroused the fear of ethnic minorities who suspected that they would be marginalized since they were not Buddhists; Buddhism also opened the way to Burmanization and the demise of the non-Burman ethnic tradition[90]. The opposition emerged, again, in the Shan States. The sawbwas summoned another conference (again in Taunggyi) on July 8th 1961. This time it was an “All States Conference”, including delegates from Karen, Kachin, Kayin, Chin, Mon and Arakan minorities (altogether 226 delegates and 104 observers)[91]. They demanded further decentralization of the country. The next move came from the Mon and Arakan delegates who demanded separate states[92]. According to various sources, U Nu was ready to give concessions and even to accept the minorities conditions[93].  U Nu hoped that by offering a large amount of autonomy he would be able to persuade them not to exercise their right of secession[94]. In this way of thinking, U Nu was following Aung San’s term of federal state. But U Nu was not Aung San, and Burma in 1962 was not Burma in 1947 r.

The new federal and compromised model was supposed to be declared on March 7th 1962. But on March 2nd the army under Ne Win made coup d’état and cancelled all decisions.

1962 marks the turning point in Burma’s history.

Army justified this coup d’état in the name of ensuring the continued unity of nation and preventing the dissolutions of the Union[95]. The negotiations between U Nu and minorities leaders raised the prospects to the army leadership of increasing disunity of the state and the possible loss control over peripheral regions[96]. For the generals the examples of South Vietnam and Laos were very much alive[97]. Bogdan Góralczyk concludes that “arguably the most important reason for Ne Win’s coup was the ‘national case’ – fear that U Nu’s promises would lead to the collapse of the state. So, the original cause of this coup was the concern of territorial integrity of the Union as well as desire to maintain Burmese dominance over those lands. Therefore the Burmese Unitarian concept has defeated the Federal concept”[98].

Year 1962 is crucial for Burma’s history. From then on, the country turned into isolation, got lost in Ne Win’s “Burmese Way to Socialism”. The result of this coup were “as if someone had just turned off the lights on a chaotic and often corrupt but nevertheless vibrant and competitive society”[99]. But first and foremost it was the decisive moment in the core-periphery relationship.

Ne Win started his dictatorship by arresting the political opponents, including U Nu. One of the detained was… the first president of Union of Burma, Sao Shwe Taike (from Shan nationality). During this arrest Taike’s 17 year old son was killed while protecting father. He was the only direct victim of 1962 coup d’état. Sao The Thaike soon was dead too: he died in prison[100]. His widow became the Shan guerilla’s leader in the fight against government[101]. It is hard to imagine more symbolic illustration of Burma’s approaching drama…

Ne Win not only arrested all political opponents, but also annihilated the federal conception of the country. He cancelled ethnic minorities privileges, undermined they autonomy, and draw the new districts lines, so that to enhance the Burmese element and weaken the minorities’. Moreover, he introduced a new policy towards guerilla, infamous “4 cats policy”, which led to brutalization of inner struggle. As a consequence, the antagonism between core and periphery wasn’t reduced, but increased. The minorities’ military organization in the 1960s and 1970 s doubled, and even united at times(1976, with own territory and even a “liberated” capital, Manarplew)[102]. All this resulted in militarization of life, strengthen the army’s position in Burma, but weakened the state in institutions, and increased the antagonism between core and periphery to unprecedented extend. This is why 1962 year is the turning point in Burma’s history.

The circumstances of the 1962 coup d’état recollect the everlasting squaring the Burmese circle – the conflict of interest between core and periphery. Due to the demands and military action conducted by Karens and others ethnic minorities, Burma stood on the brick of disintegration. It was army who saved it, but the military means, brutal at times, resulted in growing resentment and stimulated secessionist actions and guerilla fighting. This, again, led to the increased influence of army within Burma. The army, particularly it’s commander in chief Ne Win, saw itself as the only power able to keep order. The more it struggled with the minorities, the more the minorities wanted to leave Burma, and so the more grew army’s determination not to make it happen. Terror led to terror on both sides. Any concession to the minorities has been seen by army as a direct threat to integration of the Union.

From 1962 onward we have a persistent attempt to unify the country by force. The army, in full power since 1962, has been representing uncompromised attitude, called “Burmanisation”, where the only way to preserve Burma is by assimilating the minorities. Consequently, the minorities fight on and the civil war continues in some parts of the country until now. Although Robert Taylor is partly right when saying that “elimination of ethnicity as an issue and replacement it with more tractable ones such as regional development and cultural diversity(…) by the 1990s began to pay dividends”[103], we must emphasize that the core-periphery antagonism has not yet been solved. It cannot be, as long as the Burmese government will follow the militaristic way of thinking. As Thant Myint U concludes “The men in charge (in Burma) are soldiers and warlords, not political visionaries or ideologues or businessmen-in-uniform looking for easy future”[104]. If it won’t change (and it is unlikely to change), dealing with the core – periphery antagonism will still be like squaring the Burmese circle.

Michał Lubina


[1] currently The Republic of Union of Myanmar

[2] Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. Durham, North Carolina 2004.

[3] Ibidem, p. 20.

[4] http://www.unescap.org/esid/psis/population/popin/profiles/myn.asp (20.06.2011)

[5] http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Considered_responses-2.pdf (20.06.2011)

[6] http://www.ethnologue.com/15/show_family.asp?subid=90150 (20.06.2011)

[7] U Min Naing, National Ethnic Groups of Myanmar, Yangon 2000, p. 15.

[8] Bogdan Góralczyk, Złota ziemia roni łzy. Esej birmański (The Golden Land Sheds Tears. The Burmese Essay) Warszawa 2010, p. 54.

[9] http://www.myanmar.gov.mm/ministry/hotel/fact/race.htm (20.06.2011)

[10] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35910.htm (20.06.2011)

[11] More about Buddhism in Burma: Robert. C. Lester, Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Ann Arbor 1988; Milord E. Spiro, Buddhism and Society: A great Tradition and Its Burmese Vicissitudes, Berkeley-Los Angeles 1982; Milford E. Spiro, Buddhism Supernaturalism, Englewood Clifs 1967; Niharranjan Ray, An Introduction to the Study of Theravada Buddhism in Burma, Bangkok 2002

[12] G.E. Harvey, History of Burma: from the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824 – the Beginning of English Conquest, New York 1967, p.235.

[13] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p. 100.

[14] Thant Myint U, The River of Lost Footsteps. A Personal History of Burma, New York 2006, p. 106.

[15] Ibidem, p. 187.

[16] John S. Furnivall, The Fashioning of the Leviathan, in Journal of the Burma Research Society, vol XXIX, no.3/1939, p. 137.

[17] George Orwell, Burmese Days, London 1989, p. 45.

[18] Wiktor Ostasz, Neutralizm powojennej Birmy na tle stosunków z Wielką Brytanią i Stanami Zjednoczonymi (Burma’s Postwar Neutralism Against the Background of the Relationships with Great Britain and the USA), in Azja-Pacyfik Yearbook 13/2010, p. 70.

[19] John F. Cady, History of Modern Burma, London 1960, p. 73.

[20] Ni Ni Myint, Burma’s Struggle Against British Imperialism (1886-1895), Rangoon 1983, p.86.

[21] Robert H. Taylor, The State in Myanmar, Singapore 2009, p. 161.

[22] Justin Wintle, Perfect Hostage. Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma and the Generals, London 2007, p. 43.

[23] Ibidem, p. 47.

[24] Wiktor Ostasz, op. cit., p. 71.

[25] Justin Wintle, op. cit., p. 42.

[26] John F. Cady, op. cit., p. 73.

[27] Ni Ni Myint, op. cit., p. 97.

[28] Robert H. Taylor, op. cit., p. 178.

[29] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 211-289

[30] Ibidem, p. 211.

[31] This was particularly true to the young patriots from the former students’ movement, known as ”thakins”, about thakins more on: Maung Htin Aung , Michael Arthur Aung-Thwin, D. I. Steinberg, Myanmar: History, in Encyclopedia Britanicca Online, http:www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/400119/Myanmar (20.06.2011)

[32] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 231.

[33] Ba Maw, Breakthrough in Burma: Memoirs of a Revolution, New Heaven 1968, p. 200.

[34] Robert H. Taylor, op. cit., p. 228.

[35] Desmond Kelly, Kelly’s Burma Campaign, London 2003, p. 228.

[36] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 231.

[37] The famous British guerilla unit under the commandership of Orde Wingate

[38] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 236.

[39] Anthony Stockwell, Southeast Asia in War and Peace: The End of European Colonial Empires, in Nicholas Tarling (ed.) The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia. Vol. IV. From World War II to the present, Cambridge 1999, p. 234.

[40] M. P. Callahan, Making Enemies: War and State Building in Burma, Ihaca-New York 2003, p. 72-85.

[41] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 236.

[42] Pascal Khoo Thwe, From The Land of Green Ghosts. A Burmese Odyssey, New York 2003, p. 14.

[43] Justin Wintle, op. cit., p. 104.

[44] Martin Smith, Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity, London-New Jersey 1991, p. 66.

[45] Anthony Stockwell, op. cit., p. 344-347.

[46] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 247.

[47] Wiktor Ostasz, op. cit., p. 82.

[48] Atlee-Aung San Agreement § 8.

[49] Nicholas Tarling (ed.) The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia. Vol. IV. From World War II to the present,  Cambridge 1999, p. 70.

[50] Ibidem, p. 252-3.

[51] Robert H. Taylor, op. cit., p. 231-32.

[52] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 253.

[53] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p. 166.

[54] Ibidem, p. 166.

[55] Justin Wintle, op. cit., p. 134.

[56] Nicholas Tarling (ed.) op. cit., p. 81.

[57] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p.165.

[58] Pascal Khoo Thwe, op. cit., p. 15.

[59] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 253.

[60] Nicloas Tarling (ed.), op. cit., p. 81.

[61] Justin Wintle, op. cit., p. 134.

[62] 17.07.1947, by his political opponent, U Saw.

[63] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p. 171.

[64] Hugh Tinkler, The Union of Burma: A Study of the First Years of Independence, London 1961, p. 262.

[65] Pascal Khoo Thwe, op. cit., p. 15.

[66] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 261.

[67] Ibidem, p. 262.

[68] M. P. Callahan, op. cit., p. 117.

[69] Ibidem, p. 270.

[70] Donald M. Seekins, Burma and Japan since 1940: From Co-Prosperity, to Quite Dialogue, Copenhagen 2007, p. 27.

[71] Ibidem, p. 265.

[72] Martin Smith, op. cit., p.121.

[73] Wiktor Ostasz, op. cit., p. 85.

[74] Donald M. Seekins, op. cit., p. 29-34.

[75] M. P. Callahan, op. cit., p. 67.

[76] Wiktor Ostasz, op. cit., p. 85.

[77] Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe, The Paydaungzu, Federalism and Burman Elites: A Brief Analysis, http: //burmalibrary.org/docs/LIOB03-CTY.htm (20.06.2011)

[78] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 289.

[79] Ibidem, p. 265.

[80] Ibidem, p. 258.

[81] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p. 175.

[82] Thant mytni U, op. cit., p. 258.

[83] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p. 185.

[84] Robert Taylor, op. cit., p. 272.

[85] Ba Thann Win, Administration of the Shan States, Rangoon 1984, in Robert H. Taylor op. cit., p. 272.

[86] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p. 185.

[87] Robert Taylor, op. cit., p. 272.

[88] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p. 185.

[89] Robert Taylor, op. cit., p. 272.

[90] Nicolas Tarling (ed.), op. cit., p. 87.

[91] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p. 187.

[92] Robert Taylor, op. cit., p. 292.

[93] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p. 188.

[94] Pascal Khoo Thwe, op. cit., p. 15.

[95] Robert Taylor, op. cit., p. 303.

[96] Ibidem, p. 294.

[97] Richard Butwell, U Nu of Burma, Stanford 1969, p. 294.

[98] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p. 188.

[99] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 294.

[100] Ibidem, p. 291.

[101] Bogdan Góralczyk, op. cit., p. 189.

[102] Ibidem, p. 198.

[103] Robert Taylor, op. cit., p. 304.

[104] Thant Myint U, op. cit., p. 354.

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Squaring the Burmese Circle. The Genesis of Core-Periphery Antagonism in Burma Reviewed by on 26 czerwca 2011 .

Burma[1] is a multinational and multicultural country that consists of 129 nations. However, only 68% of them are Burmese (Bamar/Burman). 1/3 of the country’s territory is inhabited by non-Burmese ethnic groups (such as Shan, Mon, Arakan and so forth). They’re lands were incorporated into Burma in the times of the III Burmese Empires. During colonial

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O AUTORZE /

Michał Lubina

Doktor nauk społecznych UJ, pracownik w Instytucie Bliskiego i Dalekiego Wschodu UJ, magister rosjoznawstwa oraz studiów dalekowschodnich UJ, absolwent Interdyscyplinarnych Studiów Doktoranckich UJ. Kilkukrotny stypendysta Ministerstwa Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego (m.in. w latach 2009/2010 w Pekinie). Laureat grantu Narodowego Centrum Nauki na badanie współczesnych stosunków rosyjsko-chińskich. Oprócz tego w kręgu jego zainteresowań badawczych znajduje się przede wszystkim Azja Południowo-Wschodnia, w szczególności zaś Birma. Jest autorem czterech książek. Pierwszej w Polsce historii Birmy („Birma. Historia państw świata w XX i XXI w.”, Trio, Warszawa 2014) oraz monografii „Birma: centrum kontra peryferie. Kwestia etniczna we współczesnej Birmie 1948-2013″; (Kon-Tekst, Kraków 2014), pierwszego poświęconego temu zagadnieniu opracowaniu w języku polskim oraz – również pierwszej w Polsce – książki o współczesnych stosunkach rosyjsko-chińskich („Niedźwiedź wcieniu smoka. Rosja-Chiny 1991-2014″, Akademicka, Kraków 2014), która stała się naukowym bestsellerem. Niedawno wydał „Panią Birmy. Biografię polityczną Aung San Suu Kyi” (Wyd. PWN, Warszawa 2015). Ponadto jest autorem dwóch przewodników turystycznych po Litwie i Rosji (współautorstwo) oraz internetowych przewodników po Chinach, Hongkongu, Laosie i Bangladeszu. Publikował artykuły m.in. w „Rzeczpospolitej”(Plus/Minus), „Tygodniku Powszechnym”, „Wprost”, „Do Rzeczy”, „Nowej Europie Wschodniej”, „Nowej Konfederacji” i "National Geographic Traveller". Znajomość języków: angielski, rosyjski, ukraiński, chiński(komunikatywnie). Mieszka w Krakowie. Ekspert CSPA: Birma, Chiny-Rosja.

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