Marriage, modernity and “manner”: a Burmese-Buddhist woman’s agency in contemporary Yangon, Myanmar
An ethnographic portrait
Citable Link (URL):https://doi.org/10.3249/2363-894X-gisca-8
First published (peer reviewed)
GISCA occasional papers; 8
GISCA, Göttingen Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, 2016
Despite a resurgence of academic interest in Myanmar since the "opening" in 2011, little research exists on the growing urban middle-class, and even less on women. This paper is an ethnographic portrait of Chan Chan, a "modern", unmarried 33-year-old middle-class Burmese-Buddhist woman living in contemporary Yangon. I examine how she conceives of agency, and produces herself as an agent. I then analyse how she seeks to carve out agentive spaces for herself while performing "appropriate" femininity from typically subordinate positions. To do this, I examine her practice in pursuit of her projects: in relation to me, to her parents, in her desire to marry, in her imaginations of a husband, and in her pursuit of a better rebirth. Contextualising Chan Chan as a subject in broader societal discourses, this paper throws light on how woman like her do life in contemporary Myanmar, in a time when established discourses on women‘s "high-status" are being increasingly challenged.
This paper was originally submitted as a MA thesis to the Faculty of Social Sciences, Georg- August University, Göttingen, 2015. It was supervised by Prof. Dr. Andrea Lauser and Dr. Jovan Maud.