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In Session: Decoding Identity across Legal Fora: Lessons from Law and Technology in Asia
2: Coups and Curses:Digitally-mediated political identity formation in Myanmar’s ongoing anti-coup uprising
Thursday, March 25, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
National University of Singapore, Singapore
Amidst the massive anti-coup uprising that has been contesting Myanmar’s military since the latter claimed power on February 1st, 2021, there appears at first glance a bifurcation in the addressees implied and objectives sought by protesters. Specifically, either substantively (posters that ask the USA to invade the country) or formally (enormous signs painted on hills or roads, that cannot be read by those painting them), signs seem to appeal to a transcendent “international community” as messiah. Another set of signs – such as elaborate cursing ceremonies (Burmese: kyeinsa) – on the other hand, are conducted in Burmese language and appear meant to influence localized fields of power. Yet through further examination, the division appears to blur. In particular, this is because of the circular or boomerang nature of many of the former set of signs, in that like a boomerang they that do not actually require external mediation, but rather are designed for Burmese publics, either to injure Myanmar’s generals (by seeming to appeal to other sovereigns), or to produce a distance from the immediacy of struggle and violence on the streets to help clarify political identities. The paper provides evidence for this through the evolution of the movement, as the conversation has moved beyond simply reinstalling the previous democratic government, to forging a transethnic and inter-class movement that demands an expansion of what democracy might mean in Myanmar.