Dartmouth Events

Agrarian Change, Demonstration, and the Politics of Visibility in Myanmar

A public lecture by Courtney T. Wittekind, Asst. Prof. of Anthropology at Purdue Univ. and a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale Univ., MacMillan Center for International & Area Studies

Monday, May 13, 2024
4:00pm – 6:00pm
Fairchild 101
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Arts and Sciences, Lectures & Seminars

“Real Farmers, Dream Cities: Agrarian Change, Demonstration, and the Politics of Visibility in Myanmar”

Abstract: This presentation examines a series of demonstrations held in the southwestern outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, the site of a 20,000-acre proposal to transform the region’s farmland into a built-from-scratch “new city.” Slogans and speeches—both in support of and in opposition to the new city—fixed demonstrators' demands in the status of the region’s “real farmer” (လယ်သမားစစ်စစ် or lay-thama sit-sit), a figure both hyper-visible and simultaneously obscured in the popular protest movements of Myanmar and Southeast Asian history. Tracing contested claims about Southwest Yangon’s farmers circulating in the popular press and in state propaganda, this presentation explores the political and pragmatic tactics of future-making amid authoritarian resurgence, rapid urbanization, and the pressures of a changing climate. At stake is a broader politics of visibility, wherein the boundary between the seen and unseen becomes a site through which what is “real” in contemporary Myanmar is questioned.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Geography, the Ethics Institute and the Department of Asian Societies Cultures & Languages.

Speaker's bio:

Courtney T. Wittekind is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Purdue University. Before joining the faculty at Purdue, she held postdoctoral positions at Yale University with the Program in Agrarian Studies and the Council on Southeast Asia Studies. Wittekind’s scholarship addresses three global transformations: uneven urban development, the growth of speculative investment, and the rapid expansion of digital and networked technologies. She received her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology with a secondary field in Critical Media Practice from Harvard in 2022.

For more information, contact:
MK Long

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.