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Department of Social Anthropology


CUSAS Seminar with Dr Michael Edwards, Smuts Research Fellow, Centre of South Asian Studies (University of Cambridge)

The Reality of Fire: Converting Politics in Burma

“Real change”: This was the National League for Democracy’s offer to voters in Myanmar’s 2015 general election, the first since the apparent formal end of military rule. A vote for the party was a vote for a radical break from the past—or so the campaign slogan implied in a familiar rhetorical move. At the same time, the offer of “real change” was at the heart of local Pentecostal efforts to evangelise to Buddhists: the promise that Jesus would fundamentally transform their lives. Entering a tentatively more open public sphere, some Christians were experimenting with new opportunities to share the gospel. In this paper, I track the work of “real change” across these interrelated scales, focusing on the formulation’s ability to generate a combination of anticipation and cynicism. In doing so I suggest that ethnographic attention to religious conversion might offer insight into the work of the real in the political life of Myanmar and elsewhere.

Please register for this event:

Thursday, 11 March, 2021 - 17:00 to 18:30
Event location: 
Online - please register