Die langen Schatten der Politik - zum Stand der Birma-Forschung

  • Hans-Bernd Zöllner (Autor/in)

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The paper provides an overview of current Burma studies in a historical perspective, with a special focus on Burma studies in Germany. It starts with an assessment of the Burma Studies Conference held in Singapore in July 2006. Three features of the conference are singled out: The impact of Myanmar’s political crisis on the conference’s agenda, the fragility of research traditions and the role of the great old men and women within the community of Burma specialists.
The historical retrospect highlights the foundation of the Burma Research
Society in 1910 and proposes that an outstanding element of Burma studies was assisting the task of nation building in different stages of Burmese history. Besides this tradition of “research from within” which looked at Burma as an entity, there existed a spectrum of “research from the outside” which concentrated on specific aspects of Burma like its ethnic groups, Buddhism and cultural sites within different theoretical contexts. Burma’s isolation from the world as from 1962 resulted in a split of the research tradition into a national and an international branch, and prevented independent researchers from entering the country. Finally, some pragmatic consequences for the future of Burma studies are proposed.