Khokant Culture and Literature Association

Descendants of Ming royalist’s fleeing the Manchu conquerors in China, the Khokant are ethnic Chinese who live in a thin strip of land along Myanmar’s north eastern Shan State.  Like many of the ethnic communities they have endured decades of conflict, though unlike many of the ethnic groups their language and literature has escaped relatively unscathed … 

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Mon Literature and Culture Committee

The Mon are the oldest civilisation in the South East Asia region.  Once a powerful empire whose lands and influence stretched across the Indo-China mainland, they are responsible for the introduction of Buddhism to the region and can attest to the oldest script in the region dating back to at least the 500’s AD … 

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Wunpawng Shingni

Literally in English, ‘Kachin Arts’, Wunpawng Shingni is Kachin State’s first independent, secular, multi-ethnic arts organisation.  Residing in a two-storey wooden house in Myitkyina’s famed Manau Cultural Park, the whole organisation was formed in May 2013, taking advantage of the liberalising reforms of the Thein Sein administration …

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Why Ethnic Literature Matters

Why Ethnic Literature Matters

The other week,  Mon State Chief Minister Dr Aye Zan, speaking in Mawlamyine, touched on an issue that lies at the very heart of the stalled nationwide ceasefire agreement:

… the literature and culture of the ethnic people is very important in our state including the signing of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) by the New Mon State Party (NMSP). We must strive for our literature to reach the situation before 1962. The culture may also face the same situation. We need to protect the rights of the ethnic people,

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Review: Hidden Words Anthology

Review: Hidden Words Anthology

Many thanks to T F Rhoden and the Asia Review of Books for a very kind review of the Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds anthology.

Fascinating and smart, the eclectic collection of short stories found in Hidden Words Hidden Worlds: Contemporary Short Stories from Myanmar is recommended as much for its ability to serve as a primer on the ethnic diversity of Myanmar as it is for the enjoyableness of the stories.

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Myanmar Literature: Burmese or Ethnic?

Myanmar Literature: Burmese or Ethnic?

For the final post of 2017, I thought I would look more generally at the position of ethnic literature and its place in a wider definition of Myanmar Literature.

Though there has been little mention of it the English language press, (for a good blog piece, read Kate Griffin, who attended on behalf of the Writers Centre Norwich) the Yangon Literary Conference 2017 was held between the 13th and 16th December at MCC Hall with bookstalls, poetry recitals and exhibitions displayed by the City Hall from the 8th to the 12th

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Ethnic Literature Finds Support Elsewhere

Ethnic Literature Finds Support Elsewhere

One of the many touted reforms of the Thein Sein administration was the recognition of the right to teach ethnic language and literature.  Commitments were made to incorporate literature lessons into the syllabus with a monthly stipend for the teachers, commitments that were endorsed by the successor NLD government …

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Ethnic Literature – From Policy to Action

Ethnic Literature – From Policy to Action

Two articles in the Myanmar press this week highlight the common disconnection between turning policy into action in the country. A Myanmar Times article describes a new push by the Ministry of Education to formalise the positions of teachers of ethnic languages and literatures from informal instructors (paid a poverty wage of 1 dollar a day) to teaching assistants with an increase in salary …

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On Ethnic Literature Symposiums

On Ethnic Literature Symposiums

‘Decades of military rule, pervasive censorship polices and poor communication and transport infrastructure have essentially created two literary spheres in Myanmar, those that exist in Yangon and those elsewhere with very little knowledge or interaction between the two. The Hidden Words Hidden Worlds Symposium sought to bring those spheres a little bit closer with the beginning of a dialogue on literature in languages from around Myanmar’

My short article on the Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds ethnic literature symposium in Yangon.  Originally posted on Kitaab.  Read the rest here.

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