Ignoring Global Realities? Western Governments need to invest in Asian Studies in their Universities
The West had a very long run forcing other societies to respect its supremacy, wear its clothes and adopt its manners, not to mention its languages, values, and even its laws. Yet Asian Studies centres are no longer a monopoly of the West but are now increasingly centred, where they are funded much more richly, by their own governments.
This closing up of genuine intellectual counter-spaces marks the critical moment when universities go from saying this is what the state wishes to teach you, to this is what the state limits your understanding to be. And they cancel the contracts for books, reject inviting talks by scholars, and ignore work that shows a different way to view one or another of the societies in the region.
The Misuses of Histories and Historiography by the state in Myanmar: The Case of Rakhine and Rohingya
Some look to find solutions in holding Myanmar to account through international law regarding what the Myanmar military has done to Rohingya. That is what they can do. I am not a lawyer, but a historian. When I look at Myanmar, I am trying to unravel the ways in which religious haters in the country misuse history to legitimate what they do.
If you are genuinely interested in shaping a new field so that it is balanced and fully engages with the Burmese, all Burmese, both men and women, then ask yourself, how racist is YOUR engagement with the field. If you are not interested in this question, you are part of the reason structural racism thrives in the academy.
Are We as Area Studies Scholars Guilty of Negligence in Allowing Genocides to Happen in the Regions we Study?
Foreign scholars CAN help to prevent genocide again. If we're waiting for policymakers to prevent things on their own and save ourselves the trouble so that we can take a well-funded research trip and sit outside a coffee shop in Naypyitaw or Yangon, why should the rest of the world have any interest in reading anything we have to write? Scholarship and research should mean something.