In 1993, Alan Rabinowitz, called "the Indiana Jones" of wildlife science by The New York Times, arrived for the first time in the country of Myanmar, known until 1989 as Burma, uncertain of what to expect. Working under the auspices of the Wildlife Conservation Society, his goal was to establish a wildlife research and conservation program and to survey the country's wildlife. He succeeded beyond all expectations, not only discovering a species of primitive deer completely new to science but also playing a vital role in the creation of Hkakabo Razi National Park, now one of Southeast Asia's largest protected areas.
Beyond the Last Village takes the reader on a journey of exploration, danger, and discovery in this remote corner of the planet at the southeast edge of the Himalayas where tropical rain forest and snow-covered mountains meet. As we travel through this "lost world" -- a mysterious and forbidding region isolated by ancient geologic forces -- we meet the Rawang, a former slave group, the Taron, a solitary enclave of the world's only pygmies of Asian ancestry, and Myanmar Tibetans living in the furthest reaches of the mountains. We enter the territories of strange, majestic-looking beasts that few people have ever heard of and fewer have ever seen -- golden takin, red goral, blue sheep, black barking deer. The survival of these ancient species is now threatened, not by natural forces but by hunters with snares and crossbows, trading body parts for basic household necessities.
The powerful landscape and unique people the author befriends help him come to grips with the traumas and difficulties of his past and emerge a man ready to embrace the world anew. Interwoven with his scientific expedition in Myanmar, and helping to inform his understanding of the people he met and the situations he encountered, is this more personal journey of discovery.
Long isolated by rigid military rule, Burma, or Myanmar, is one of the least known, significantly sized states in the world. Possessed of a rich cultural history yet facing a range of challenges to stability and growth, it has struck the imaginations of those concerned not only with geopolitical or trade affairs but also with poverty, health, and human rights. David I. Steinberg sheds new light on this reclusive state by exploring issues of authority and legitimacy in its politics, economics, social structure, and culture since the popular uprising and military coup of 1988.
Exploring the origins of that year’s tumultuous events, Steinberg analyzes a generation of preceding military governments and their attempts to address the nation’s problems. He focuses on the role of the military, the effects of Burma’s geopolitical placement, the plight of the poor, the destruction of civil society, and rising ethnic tensions. While taking into account the importance of foreign observers as counterpoints to official views, suppliers of economic aid, and advocates of reform, Steinberg contends that ultimately, the solutions to Myanmar’s varied problems lie with the Burmese themselves and the policies of their government.
The paperback edition includes a postcript that reveals the most current and critical issues facing Burma since the publication of the original hardcover in March 2001. Steinberg brings readers up to date on the recent release of political prisoners, economic and military conditions, United Nations actions, and the complex, ever-changing relationship between Thailand and Myanmar.
Burma's Mass Lay Meditation Movement: Buddhism and the Cultural Construction of Power describes a transformation in Buddhist practice in contemporary Burma. This revitalization movement has had real consequences for how the oppressive military junta, in power since the early 1960s, governs the country.
Drawing on more than ten years of extensive fieldwork in Burma, Ingrid Jordt explains how vipassanā meditation has brought about a change of worldview for millions of individuals, enabling them to think and act independently of the totalitarian regime. She addresses human rights as well as the relationship between politics and religion in a country in which neither the government nor the people clearly separates the two. Jordt explains how the movement has been successful in its challenge to the Burmese military dictatorship where democratically inspired resistance movements have failed.
Jordt's unsurpassed access to the centers of political and religious power in Burma becomes the reader's opportunity to witness the political workings of one of the world's most secretive and tyrannically ruled countries. Burma's Mass Lay Meditation Movement is a valuable contribution to Buddhist studies as well as anthropology, religious studies, and political science.
After careful re-reading and analysis of original Old Burmese and other primary sources, the author discovered that four out of the five events considered to be the most important in the history of early Burma, and believed to have been historically accurate, are actually late-nineteenth and twentieth-century inventions of colonial historians caught in their own intellectual and political world.
Only one of these is a genuine indigenous Burmese myth, but it too has been embellished by modern historians.
The author discusses each of these five myths and concludes with an assessment of the current situation in Burma in the context of the new myths springing up today, thereby bringing the thirteenth century into the twentieth.
In late 1930, on a secluded mountain overlooking the rural paddy fields of British Burma, a peasant leader named Saya San crowned himself King and inaugurated a series of uprisings that would later erupt into one of the largest anti-colonial rebellions in Southeast Asian history. Considered an imposter by the British, a hero by nationalists, and a prophet-king by area-studies specialists, Saya San came to embody traditional Southeast Asia’s encounter with European colonialism in his attempt to resurrect the lost throne of Burma.
The Return of the Galon King analyzes the legal origins of the Saya San story and reconsiders the facts upon which the basic narrative and interpretations of the rebellion are based. Aung-Thwin reveals how counter-insurgency law produced and criminalized Burmese culture, contributing to the way peasant resistance was recorded in the archives and understood by Southeast Asian scholars.
This interdisciplinary study reveals how colonial anthropologists, lawyers, and scholar-administrators produced interpretations of Burmese culture that influenced contemporary notions of Southeast Asian resistance and protest. It provides a fascinating case study of how history is treated by the law, how history emerges in legal decisions, and how the authority of the past is used to validate legal findings.
This diary, begun after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and covering the invasion of Burma up to June 1942, is a moving account of the dilemmas faced by the well-loved and prolific Burmese author Theippan Maung Wa (a pseudonym of U Sein Tin) and his family. At the time of the Japanese invasion, U Sein Tin was deputy secretary in the Ministry of Home and Defense Affairs. An Oxford-trained member of the Indian Civil Service, working for the British administration on the eve of the invasion, he lived with his wife and three small children in Rangoon.
Wartime in Burma is a stirring memoir that presents a personal account of U Sein Tin’s feelings about the war, his anxiety for the safety of his family, the bombing of Rangoon, and what happened to them during the next six chaotic months of the British retreat. The author and his family leave Rangoon to live in a remote forest in Upper Burma with several other Burmese civil servants, their staff, and valuable possessions—rich pickings for robbers. His diary ends abruptly on June 5, his forty-second birthday; U Sein Tin was murdered on June 6 by a gang of Burmese bandits. The diary pages, scattered on the floor of the house, were rescued by his wife and eventually published in Burma in 1966. What survives is a unique account that shines new light on the military retreat from Burma.
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