Home    Number 1, 2019

Myanmar: How to Escape from the Identity Trap

[M’ianma: kak vybrat’sia iz lovushki identichnostei]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150004182-0

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 07.04.2018

Accepted: 29.11.2018

About author(s)

François Robinne | http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5894-6275 | francois.robinne@ens-lyon.fr | CNRS en Rhône Auvergne (2 Avenue Albert Einstein, 69100 Villeurbanne, France)


Burma, otherness, ethnic state, nation state, ethnic identity, transethnic space, ethnonyms, toponyms, constitution, citizenship, social crossroads, hybrid landscapes


By anchoring itself in the state structure since the Panglong postcolonial treaty, ethnic determinism has imposed itself in Burma as an imprescriptible acquisition in the eyes of the different actors, from all origins: ethnic formations and their elites, central military or civilian power, civil society, religious congregations, international bodies, etc. Faced with this consensus – consensus in adversity, as the years of civil war and the situation in Arakan remind us – the question is twofold: on the one hand, to understand the institutional mechanism leading to ethnic and/or religious confrontation; on the other hand, to question the irreversible character of this ethnicizing dynamic, against which inevitably the construction of an integrating Cosmopolitan-Nation-State, defined as “the feeling of common belonging”, is inevitable. This involves a reflection on the generalization of toponyms in the administrative division of the country, adapting in a way to the context of post-modern globalization the prevailing trend during the time of royalties. The articulation of three structural components of ethnic determinism is considered in terms of: 1) the multicultural orientation of the Constitutions; 2) the essentialist dimension of censuses in the lineage of which the law of citizenship is based; and 3) the resilient propensity of the Burmese State against the yoke of otherness and its impossibility to leave the identity trap.


Robinne, F. 2019. M’ianma: kak vybrat’sia iz lovushki identichnostei [Myanmar: How to Escape from the Identity Trap]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 1: 97-116. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150004182-0

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