The Siam Society Lecture: The Hidden History of Burma (9 January 2020)

The Siam Society Lecture: The Hidden History of Burma (9 January 2020)

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The Siam Society Lecture

The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism, and the Crisis of Democracy in the 21st Century

A talk by Dr Thant Myint-U

Precariously positioned between China and India, Burma’s population has suffered dictatorship, natural disaster, and the dark legacies of colonial rule. But when decades of military dictatorship finally ended and internationally beloved Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi emerged from long years of house arrest, hopes soared. World leaders such as Barack Obama ushered in waves of international support. Progress seemed inevitable.

As historian, former diplomat, and presidential advisor, Thant Myint-U saw the cracks forming. In this insider’s diagnosis of a country at a breaking point, he dissects how a singularly predatory economic system, fast-rising inequality, disintegrating state institutions, the impact of new social media, the rise of China next door, climate change, and deep-seated feelings around race, religion, and national identity all came together to challenge the incipient democracy. Interracial violence soared and a horrific exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees fixed international attention. Thant Myint-U explains how and why this happened, and details an unsettling prognosis for the future.

Dr Thant Myint-U is an award-winning writer, historian, conservationist, and a former adviser to the President of Myanmar. He was educated at Harvard and Cambridge Universities and taught history from 1995–2000 as a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He has also served on three United Nations peacekeeping operations, in Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia, as well as at the UN Secretariat in New York, including as the head of policy planning in the Department of Political Affairs. Since 2007 he has been involved in numerous projects and initiatives related to reform in Myanmar. "The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism, and the Crisis of Democracy in the 21st Century" is his fourth book.

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Disclaimer
The Siam Society is diffusing this lecture for academic, educational and scholarly research purposes only. At no times does The Siam Society take responsibility for any ideas and opinions presented by the lecturer or persons making comments or asking questions.

The Siam Society is deeply grateful to the James H.W. Thompson Foundation for its generous support of the Lecture Series.