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Waves of Upheaval in Myanmar

Gendered Transformations and Political Transitions

Edited by Jenny Hedström and Elisabeth Olivius

Available worldwide
ISBN Hardback: 978-87-7694-322-6, £70 (November 2022)
ISBN Paperback: 978-87-7694-323-3, £22.50 (May 2023)

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About the book

This is the first comprehensive account of the multifaceted processes of gendered transformation that took place in Myanmar between 2011 and 2021, and which continues to shape events today. The period began with the end of direct military rule and the transition to a hybrid, semi-democratic regime, precipitating far-reaching political, economic and social changes across Myanmar. To date, the gendered dynamics and effects of this transition have not yet received sustained scholarly attention. Remedying this gap, this book provides a much-needed historical corrective through a careful, nuanced analysis of the gendered dynamics of transitional politics, institutions and policymaking; feminist resistance, mobilization, and movement building; and their effects on labor, land, and everyday lives. Although the February 2021 military coup brought an end to this decade of experimentation and transition, in the richness of its analysis and detail, the book offers a deeper understanding of the current political situation in Myanmar. The gendered changes that the transition brought about have shaped both the current configuration of masculinized, military dictatorship, as well as the unprecedented role played by women in resistance to military rule after the 2021 coup. This analysis of the gendered dynamics and effects of the recent decade of political transition in Myanmar is therefore critical for understanding current events, as well as the ways in which Myanmar’s political landscape might continue to be reshaped.

About the author

Jenny Hedström is an associate professor in war studies at the Swedish Defence University. Her research concerns the relationship between gender and war, with a focus on rebel warfare in Myanmar.

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Elisabeth Olivius is an associate professor in political science at Umeå University whose research explores how gendered relations of power are produced and reshaped in conflict, displacement and peacebuilding.

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by Anna Plunkett
From journal: International Affairs
The book must be commended for not only outlining the variation in participation, access, concerns and lived experiences of women within Myanmar, but also for its commitment to a feminist methodology to study conflict and International Relations (IR). The contributors include a variety of practitioners, academics and specialists, based in Myanmar as well as outside its borders. Each chapter offers a thoughtful reflection on the contributor’s positionality, providing a great example of how such reflexive practice can powerfully advance academic research. The book’s breadth of methodological approaches provides insight into the plurality of ways to engage, analyse and cooperate within research. From interviews with female political leaders to participatory photography projects, from focus groups to oral histories, these contributions offer a holistic window into the variations of lived experiences within Myanmar. Taken as a whole, the chapters illustrate the complex set of political realities, and also demonstrate the strengths of vigorous research within critical feminist IR.
by Cynthia Enloe, Clark University
From journal: Blurb
“After reading Waves of Upheaval, I will never again use the term ‘transitional’ lightly. Each engrossing chapter has made me think about what exactly happens in diverse Myanmar women’s lives during alleged reforms, fragile ceasefires and arrogant land grabs. This is truly a model of collective feminist investigation.”
by Nick Cheesman, Australian National University
From journal: Blurb
“For decades, political research on Myanmar neglected gender and suppressed feminist critique. No longer. Waves of Upheaval is a welcome obituary for that doddery version of politics as the affairs of men. Its talented editors have brought emerging writers together with established thinkers and prominent activists to explain how government, labour, war and revolution in Myanmar today turn on gendered ideas and practices. Through close inquiries into landscapes, violence, education, displacement and peace-building, the book’s contributors show that women and differently gendered people are not ancillary to Myanmar’s politics. They make them.”