Historical Preconditions and Causes for the Political Development of Present-day Myanmar


International Conference

Held at the University of Passau, Southeast Asian Studies,
Dr.-Hans-Kapfinger-Straße 14 b, Room 314a, July 18 – 21, 2016

Financed by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung

Organized by:
Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Korff
Chair of Southeastasian Studies
Prof. Dr. Oliver Hahn
Prof. for Journalism
Dr. phil.habil. Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam
Reader for Southeastasian Studies
Secretariat: Ursula Junk

Myanmar is the northernmost member of ASEAN located between India and China. Currently, it undergoes a period of transition. Since the election victory of the NLD in 2015 it has even more come to the forefront of intrnational interest. However, research on Myanmar still remains on a low level not least due the self-isolation of the country for over 50 years. Not surprisingly, most publications and conferences turn on current political and social conditions and factors for the transformaton. Long term causes and backgrounds for social and ideological development of the country are hardly considered. Research on Myanmar in the German-speaking area, moreover, still focusses primarily on topics of cultural and social anthropology and linguistics.

One of the focal points of the Dept. of Southeast Asian Studies has been Myanmar since nearly 20 years. The Dept. has published several studies on the topic and conducted a number of conferences since 2007. It pursues a social science perspective with a comparative and historical approach. Current political processes are being analysed on the foil of pre-colonial and colonial conditions as well as the dynamics of the ASEAN region. Myanmar is not looked at in isolation, but within the context of the development of Southeast Asia and the region. In 2012 the ‚Wisssenschaftsforum Myanmar’ (WiMya Academic Forum Myanmar) was established with Rüdiger Korff as chairman. WiMya normally conducts two conferences per year. The next conference will take place at Passau from 18th to 21st July. It will mirror the state of the art of international research on Myanmar and will specifically look into the historical and political development of the country, viz. analyse the current dynamics in the light of longer term processes in Myanmar and Southeast Asia. There will be three foci:

  1. Politics and society
  2. History and historical legitimation
  3. Media, public sphere and their significance for present-day Myanmar


18th July          Arrival of speakers

18:00 Snacks and drinks at the Department (Dr.-Hans-Kapfinger Strasse 14b, Room 314)

09:30 Rüdiger Korff, Daw Yin Yin Myint Opening and Welcome Speech
10:15 Marie Lall Keynote: Understanding Reform in Myanmar. People and Society in the wake of Military Rule
11:00 Break
Recent Political Developments
11:30 Chaw Chaw Sein Post-election political development of Myanmar
Uta Gärtner

Oliver Hahn

Dagmar Hellmann

Legacies of Military Rule



13:00 Lunch
14:30 Wolfram Schaffar Political Change in Myanmar – in comparative perspective
Yin Myo Thu


Marie Lall

Mo Mo Thant

Political economy of foreign assistance in Myanmar after 2010



16:00 Break
16:30 Carole Ann Chit Tha ASEAN and Myanmar Relations
Seng Raw Lahpai


Jacques Leider

Mandy Fox

Representation of Non-Myanmar in the New Myanmar



19:00 Dinner
20.7 Historical Pre-Conditions and Legitimation
09:00 Jacques Leider Historical ruptures, ethnoreligious challenges and the current prospects of Rakhine state
Mandy Fox News (Re) Production of Rakhine State by International Media


Carole Ann Chit Tha

Rüdiger Korff

11:00 Break
11:30 Hans-Bernd Zöllner Political Iconography in Burma/Myanmar – Some Preliminary Considerations
Tilman Frasch

Alexey Kirichenko

Uta Gärtner

Between Global Bagan and Global Myanmar



13:00 Lunch
14:30 Mo Mo Thant Social work of Buddhist nuns in Myanmar society
Juliane Schober


Wolfram Schaffar

Seng Raw Lahpai

Legislating Race, Religion and Gender: Women in the Contemporary Myanmar Discourse



16:30 Break
17:00 Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam Perceptions of Burmese History
 Alexey Kirichenko


Mo Mo Thant

Juliane Schober

From Riches to Rags? Historiographical Concepts and the Role of Sources in the Study of Burma’s Past



  19:00 Reception at the conference location
21.7 Media and Communication in the New Myanmar
09:30 Oliver Hahn The Media Landscape in The New Myanmar: The Role of International  Actors of Media Development Assistance
Ma Thida


Yin Myo Thu

Hans-Bernd Zöllner

Freedom of Expression and Media Literacy in Myanmar



11:00 Break
11:30 Rüdiger Korff Endnote
13:00 Farewell Lunch

Departure on 21st and 22nd July

List of Speakers:

Carole Ann Chit Tha Myanmar Institute of Strategic Studies, Yangon
Chaw Chaw Sein Dep. International Relations, University of Yangon
Frasch, Tilman Manchester Metropolitan University
Fox, Mandy University of Passau
Gärtner, Uta Humboldt University, Berlin
Hahn, Oliver University of Passau
Helbardt, Sascha University of Passau
Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Dagmar University of Passau
Kirichenko, Alexey State University, Moscow
Korff, Rüdiger University of Passau
Lahpai, Seng Raw Airavati Foundation
Lall, Marie University College, London
Leider, Jacques Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, Paris
Ma Thida PEN President, Myanmar
Mo Mo Thant Dep. History, Yangon University of Distance Education
Schaffar, Wolfram University of Vienna
Schober, Juliane University of Arizona
Yin Myo Thu Dep. International Relations, University of Yangon
Yin Yin Myint Ambassador of Myanmar, Berlin
Zöllner, Hans Bernd retired