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Bo Bo, Maung (2019) The Burmese Military and the Press in U Nu's Burma. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Most scholarship on Burmese military studies only discusses the history of the Burma Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) in institutional terms. Its rise to power is usually assumed to be its own handiwork, as an isolated organization, this effort not correlating with civilian activity. The Burmese military’s turn to the “Burmese Way to Socialism” ideology in 1962 is also accepted as an afterthought, to legitimate its effort to take power in the 1960s. In actuality, the Burmese military leadership from the beginning in the 1940s was always involved with literati and these literati and the military men formed part of the same intellectual and political networks stretching back to the 1930s. This thesis challenges the idea of the ‘unpolitical Tatmadaw.’ This thesis is a bifocal study of Cold War culture in Burma and the intellectual history of post-war Burma politics before the Ne Win era (1962-1988). First, it identifies the early associations of these political, military, and intellectual elites in districts and urban educational, political and military training grounds since the 1930s and how they ended up after the 1962 coup. Second, it examines factionalized politics rooted in the Burmese political mindset and how it impacted the thinking of the ruling elites since the last years of the colonial era to explain the development of long running Army rule in Burma. In doing so, this thesis highlights the importance of intellectuals in the state building effort in post-WWII Burma. This thesis argues that far from opposing the military, intellectuals were partly responsible for the military’s rise to political power in Burma. Ultimately, the military takeover in 1962 is better understood as partly the result of the activities of the civilianmilitary networks than solely in institutional terms internal to the military.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Michael Charney
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2020 11:24

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