Modern name for RangoonContemporary name for Rangoon
Bringing together heritage, national identity and a modern future.
Retrospective on state and society in modern Rangoon
Doñald M. Seekins, state and community in modern Rangoon. Seekins' key to Seekins' study of the state's relation to Yangon and its societies is the arguement that the state has tried to separate itself and place itself above the rest of societies in order to regulate and limit any kind of "horizontal power" in them (. 10).
Arguing that the isolated regime began in 1852 when Burma's monarch state ceased to have any influence on sub-Burma and Britain's colonisation began. He underscores three issues that are critical to the country's efforts to keep its detachment from society: force, observance of buddhistic ceremonies, and municipal redevelopment.
Like they have been under the UK and its followers in the Yangon state - community relationship story, these three issues are the thread that links the text. While the introductory remarks and the last two sections of the state and the modern Rangoon community deal with modern Yangon affairs, the other seven sections present a historic story organised by age of government.
A lot has already been reported elsewhere about state authority in Myanmar; this report concentrates on the other two issues of the city of Marmara, the use of buddhistic ceremonies and municipal redevelopment. It provides an assessment of the transfer of the country's capitol to Naypyidaw in 2005-2006 and an introductory look at Yangon's modern world.
One cause of this under development is the cursorily way in which Marsekins uses its resources, and this is a concern throughout the state and society of modern Rangoon. Seeksins emphasizes the importance that Than Shwe has attached not only to observing buddhistic rites in the creation of an atmosphere of legality, but also to rigorous urbanism and so-called superstition in his choice to move the nation's capitol.
SeaKins has used large numbers of news items to create this story. Seeekins' first section shows the importance of the Shwedagon pit in Burmese Buddhism and its meaning for various masters. The state and society in modern Rangoon keep returning to the issues of building and maintaining pagodas, making contributions to the Buddhist sang-ha and the resulting merits and opportunities for the various administrations to establish their basis of outreach.
Dealing with these important topics poses a question as to the possible and real impact of the participation of state officials in buddhistic rituals. How, one asks oneself, have different parts of the Yangon community seen these deeds in different times? Marsekins doesn't answer these question and doesn't seem to have taken them into account either. According to Mrsekins, the Shwedagon Pagoda was also crucial to the creation of a political arena and popular sentiment in Yangon and beyond.
Arguing that during Britain's domination of the colonies, "the footwear dispute" led to the creation of popular sentiment and at the same the transformation of a natural environment into a state. He points out that Burmese Buddhist thought dominates this new form of popular thought and openness in a land populated by different nations, speaks many different tongues and identifies with many differentbeliefs.
Shwedagon and other Buddhist places in Yangon continue to be of great importance to the post-1988 state. It has promoted the building of Buddhist monuments, renovating already existent ones (e.g. the Shwedagon's hy - the parasol that crowned a pagoda) and other expensive, potentially deserving work.
Mr Seekins suggested that the transformation of Yangon's cityscape and state authority often went together in the past and still do today. In the design and construction of Yangon, UK settlement officers often ignored residents' ownership rights and destroyed towns and communities in their eagerness to design the town according to their own designs.
During the immediate post-colonial years, efforts to liberate Yangon from the UK footprint were largely at the detriment of the non-native population, but this was changing when impoverished metropolitan communities and squatters' estates were violently dismantled to "clean up" the town during the transitional rule of 1958-1960 by Gen Ne Win (p. 88).
As Seekins ascribed to the compulsory relocation plans of the present army regime, the population was similar. A lot of the population could no longer have afforded to commuting to downtown Yangon, where they worked before the relocation. Seekins said the primary objective of forcible relocation today was to create a more controllable cityscape for the state.
In addition to these conscious, scheduled endeavours of the state, there is another side to the city redevelopment. The Yangon and its people are becoming more and more involved in a worldwide network of changes that are being speeded up by the government's quest for revenue through the selling of trade licences to overseas investment. Seekins often bases his discussion of these changes on notions such as "thin modern veneers.... coexistence with Myanmar's identity" (p. 163) without addressing these notions.
Concepts such as "traditional", "modern" and "globalization" are often used but hardly ever explain. To conclude this examination of the state and society of contemporary Rangoon, I would like to come back to the question of wellsprings. Donald Seekins has researched scientific papers, newspapers, radios and face-to-face discussions and interview for the work.
Using the voice of informers who appear to be based in Yangon to enhance the text, he does not allow the readers to locate the persons cited or the information they have obtained.