CSEAS Seminar: Engineering public hostility against popular movements: Tatmadaw’s suppressive repertoire in urban Myanmar

Event time: 
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Event description: 

Organizers of mass protest movements in urban Myanmar nowadays encounter an increasing number of suppressive tactics by the military force. Most of the existing studies have focused on analyzing the more straightforward tools of repression by the Burmese junta and its violent contractors, however much less is understood about its more deceptive strategies to mobilize public hostility against protesters – despite the common occurrence of this phenomenon. In this talk, I aim to shed light on these strategies by juxtaposing two case studies of popular pro-democracy protests under military-ruled Myanmar: the Four-eight Uprising in 1988 and Saffron Revolution in 2007. By analyzing original interview data and written testimony by more than 100 civilians who witnessed or participated in the protest events, I provide a typology of the military’s suppressive repertoire and examine its varied effects. This study generates a fresh perspective to better understand opportunities and constraints around movement entrepreneurs under dictatorial rule in Myanmar and beyond.

Van Tran is a researcher of authoritarian politics, social movements, and digital cultures in Southeast Asia, with a focus on Myanmar. She completed her Ph.D. at the Department of Government, Cornell University in 2020 with a dissertation examining the resilience of public activism under repression, leveraging historical case studies from Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement during military rule. She has also worked with policy research institutes and civic tech organizations in Myanmar to deliver insights and policy recommendations on topics concerning local governance, digital literacy, and online disinformation. Her recent analysis and commentaries on Burmese politics appeared on The Washington Post, Brookings Institution, Al Jazeera, AP, etc.

Van Tran, Cornell University