Crisis in Myanmar: Understanding Buddhist Nationalism, Decentralized Resistance, and Polycentric Federal Democracy

5:00 pm on Wednesday, February 15, 2023
6:30 pm on Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Pardee School of Global Studies, 121 Bay State Road
1st floor
Contact Organization:
BU Center for the Study of Asia
Contact Name:
Maria Elena Rivera-Beckstrom
Contact Phone:
David Moe (Yale University)
Myanmar is religiously and ethnically the second most diverse nation in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Yet Myanmar exists as an “unfinished nation” that holds the politics of Buddhist nationalism, militarism, and the longest civil war in a post-colonial Southeast Asia. Why did Buddhist nationalism emerge? How does old Buddhist nationalism relate to the new 2021 coup? Since the coup on February 1, 2021, citizens from different religions and ethnicities have continued to launch the courageous and creative forms of decentralized resistance against military power. What has motivated this uprising, particularly among Generation Z? How has this resistance addressed Buddhist nationalism and bridged the religious and ethnic divides in Burmese politics? Is there a unifying vision of democracy amidst the religious and ethnic diversity? What would the future of Myanmar’s polycentric federal democracy look like? In this event, the speaker will explore the current state of decentralized resistance movement two years after the coup, based on his firsthand experience of Buddhist nationalism, his intellectual expertise in theory of Buddhist nationalism, and the vision of polycentric federal democracy.