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Accepted Paper:

Removed from Conflict? Researching the daily life of a Yangon hospital against the backdrop of Myanmar's past and present violence  
Nora Wuttke (School of African and Oriental Studies)

Paper short abstract:

This paper reflects on researching the daily life of a hospital in Myanmar against the backdrop of the country's violent past and present. What does it mean to conduct research removed (geographically and temporally) from the violence that nonetheless occupies interlocutors’ minds and hearts?

Paper long abstract:

Myanmar is facing many internal conflicts, amongst them one of the longest active civil wars. The country is furthermore facing genocide charges against the Rohinga. Following a military coup in 1962 its population was suffering under a violent, xenophobic and superstitious military regime. This nominally came to an end only 10 years ago with the country's first civilian president, making way for the current democratically elected government under Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. Yangon, the former capital, and economic and intellectual centre today, has been for centuries the site of demonstrations of power of whatever army was in charge.

Much anthropological research has focused on Myanmar’s border regions where conflicts are the most pronounced as well as rural areas, while the canon of Yangon Studies is slim. Few scholars contribute work on Yangon which is somewhat (physically) removed from the raging conflicts as well as economically most disadvantaged regions.

This paper reflects on what it means to research the daily life, its rhythms and mundaneness, of one of Yangon’s public tertiary hospitals against the backdrop of the country's ongoing and historic violence. What is the ethnographer’s role and responsibility when researching geographically and temporally removed from these conflicts; not focusing on the country’s violence and "poverty" (exoticness?) but shining light on spaces that remain under-researched in favour of conflict areas, while these conflicts are nonetheless alive in interlocutors' lives?

Panel Speak05a
Researching against the grain: correspondence and conflict between individual representation and the anthropological metanarrative I
  Session 1 Tuesday 30 March, 2021, -