Relationality and radical democracy: The possibilities of postcolonial citizenship in Myanmar



Myanmar, postcolonial citizenship, radical democracy, relationality


Western liberal conceptions of democratic citizenship require the state to be “neutral” by separating the political from the social. However, this is often at odds with the realities of socio-political organization in many former colonized countries. In this paper, I draw on empirical data from photo-elicitation interviews with eight Buddhist youth in Yangon to illustrate the socio-political realities of everyday citizenship and citizenship education in Myanmar. Findings show that, for Buddhist participants, their political identity as Myanmar citizens and their religious identity as Buddhists are deeply enmeshed. Rather than force-fit postcolonial states into the Western democratic model, I propose that the notions of relationality and radical democracy offer a means of indigenizing democracy and draws on Myanmar’s Buddhist democracy to illustrate the political potential of relationalism.

Author Biography

Wendy Choo, University of Auckland

I'm a 3rd year doctoral student at the University of Auckland, Faculty of Education and Social Work, Critical Studies in Education. My research takes a critical realist and postcolonial sociological approach to citizenship in Myanmar to examine the relationships between ethnicities, religious identities and spaces in the construction of citizen identities.






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