CSEAS Seminar: “Unfinished Nation: Imagining a New Myanmar Beyond Religious Nationalism and Tribalism”“

Event time: 
Wednesday, November 2, 2022 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Henry R. Luce Hall (LUCE ), 203 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

Myanmar is religiously and ethnically the second most diverse nation in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Yet why does the nation fail to embrace its religious and ethnic diversity as strength for building a post-independence nation? Today, Myanmar exists in Southeast Asia as an “unfinished nation” marked by the post-colonial politics of Buddhist nationalism, monocultural politics of Burmanization, the longest civil war, majority-minority ethnic conflict, and minority conflict within minority states. Why did Buddhist nationalism rise? How does old Buddhist nationalism relate to the new 2021 coup? How does religion play a role in the ethnic identity imagination of nationalism and tribalism? Religion and ethnicity have been a dividing and exclusionary role in the Burmese politics, most tragically in the persecution of the Rohingya. Yet the urgent need of anti-coup and anti-Buddhist nationalism movement led by youth from “Generation Z” has brought together protesters from different religions and ethnicities. Civilians from the rural villages and urban cities have bridged their religious and ethnic divides to resist the coup and nationalism. How deep is their religious solidarity and ethnic reconciliation within a short period of time? Do the ethnic majorities and ethnic minorities share the same political vision of democracy? Is federalism the only solution to the complexities of multiple conflicts?

David Thang Moe (Ph.D), a Chin born and raised in the ethnic minority village of Myanmar, is a Postdoctoral Associate in Southeast Asian Studies at Yale University. He studied in three different countries—Myanmar, Malaysia, and the US. His research interests include religion and public life, colonialism, Buddhist nationalism, ethnic conflict, subaltern politics of resistance, federal democracy, religious ethics, ethnic reconciliation, and Christian-Buddhist engagement in Southeast Asia (Myanmar). He has published over 70 scholarly articles. He also has contributed analysis of Burmese politics for the academic and popular audience in Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Notre Dame’s Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion, Christianity Today, and other outlets. He is currently writing a book on the politics of Buddhist nationalism and ethnic conflict. He is an invited speaker on Myanmar at several universities across the world, including Harvard, Columbia, Brown, Princeton, Boston, George Washington University, New York University, Eastern Kentucky University, University of Kentucky, Toronto, Australian National University, University of Sydney, Oxford, Cambridge, Hamburg, Yonsei, Ewha, and among others. He is also involved in an advocacy work by meeting with some US Senators to restore Myanmar’s democracy. He is on the editorial team of five academic journals: International Journal of Public Theology; Journal of Southeast Asian Movement at Yale; Interreligious Studies and Intercultural Theology; Missiology: An International Review; and Asian American Theological Forum. He is a member of American Academy of Religion, Association for Asian Studies, and Global Network for Public Theology.

David Thang Moe, Henry Hart Rice Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University