Strange bedfellows or genuine comrades? Variation in digital solidarity among Myanmar’s revolutionaries

12:30 to 13:30
(GMT+01:00) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris
NIAS Lunch Talk

Authors: Megan Ryan (PhD Candidate, University of Michigan) & Mai Van Tran (Postdoc, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract: The shock and anger felt by the Myanmar public as they witnessed their democratically elected government deposed in an illegal military coup has led to a revolutionary break in Burmese politics. The Bamar political elites, formerly silent on the Rohingya crisis, issued public apologies and regret; the coup breathed new life and possibilities into the formation of a federal democracy; and young students and strike leaders dared to challenge the dominance of the traditional elites with fresh and more progressive political ideologies for a future Myanmar. However, little is known about whether or how the support for inter-ethnic solidarity has continued to develop since the Myanmar Spring Revolution began. Has the coup itself and people’s experience of participating in the Spring Revolution facilitated increasing trust and solidarity? What structural barriers remain? As many digitally-connected communities across Myanmar took to social media in order to condemn the military and mobilize resistance, studying these groups’ online interactions will provide critical insights into their internal dynamics. By analyzing conversations throughout the one-year period following the coup on three of the most popular resistance groups on Facebook from Bamar and non-Bamar communities, we demonstrate a mixed process comprising both instrumental and organic drivers of inter-ethnic solidarity. Our findings provide a novel contribution to the literature on solidarity-building among diverse anti-dictatorship forces, revolution dynamics in post-coup Myanmar, and the role of social media on forging inter-communal empathy. These issues also have important implications for the possibility of achieving an inclusive and democratic Myanmar in the longer term.

Bio of speaker:

Mai Van Tran is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. Her research has focused on contentious politics and digital cultures under authoritarianism in the contexts of Myanmar’s military dictatorship (1962-2010) and post-coup period (after 2021).

Read more about the lunch talk here

Nordic Institute of Asian Studies
4.2.49, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5