An anthropological study of "Control" and "Public": Community, information and resources in Myanmar
control, public, community
Since the Ne Win coup d’état in 1962, Myanmar has experience three types of government (socialist, military, presidential) and two economic regimes (socialist-centralized and market driven under economic sanctions). But whatever the system, strict control of the movement of goods, people and information has been the rule. This research examines “control” from a comparative perspective that includes religion and gender as well as government policy, paying attention to both invisible ideology and coercive mechanisms. It will also examine mutual surveillance by members of neighborhood organizations and the embodiment of control through language and other mechanisms. In contrast to these forms of control, we have seen the emergence in varied communities of “publics.” In Myanmar these include religious networks and family associations that bring together believers in religion or spiritual powers, ethnic minorities and international or domestic NGOs. In all of these cases gender and kinship ties become of strategic significance when escaping control and creating alternative networks. This research will examine these alternatives from a practical perspective that includes both control and community, primarily in Myanmar, now undergoing a sudden liberation from control, in an effort to clarify the processes shaping and reshaping communities as society is restructured.