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New publication: "Property, Citizenship and Invisible Dispossession in Myanmar's Urban Frontier"

Apartment building in Myanmar. Photo.
Photo by Elizabeth Rhoads

Elizabeth Rhoads examines dispossession of religious minorities in a new article on Myanmar.

Myanmar’s systematic dispossession of religious and ethnic minorities is well-documented as a tool for counterinsurgency through territorialisation. However, the specific contours of the relationship between minorities, territorialisation, and urban dispossession remain underexplored. This article argues that legislative changes linking identity, property, and belonging led to widescale invisible dispossession of minorities, through the mechanisms of law, citizenship and bureaucracy. Such dispossession gave birth to multiple urban frontiers – temporal spaces that break down existing property relations and create new ones through territorialisation.

This article explores one such moment in Myanmar’s largest city and former capital, Yangon, through the lens of Islamic pious endowments, or waqf. By positioning Yangon’s post-1988 landscape as an urban frontier, the article shows how legislative changes serve to actively create frontiers in urban centres through legal dispossession and the transformation of property relations. The article develops the concept of the urban frontier as inextricably tied to territorialisation and dispossession, positing that a frontier, as a spatialized moment in time, can exist at geographical centres as well as peripheries.

Read the full article here on Taylor & Francis website


Elizabeth Rhoads is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Human Rights in Southeast Asia, dividing her time between the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies and the Centre for Human Rights Studies, Lund University.

Older style apartment building in Myanmar. Photo.
Photo by Elizabeth Rhoads