Metamorphosis: Studies in Social and Political Change in Myanmar

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Edited by Renaud Egreteau and François Robinne
Contributions by Renaud Egreteau, Alexandra de Mersan, Elliott Prasse-Freeman, Maxime Boutry, Jane M. Ferguson, Jacques P. Leider, Carine Jaquet, Rosalie Metro, Susan Banki, Céline Coderey, Hiroko Kawanami, Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière and François Robinne

With a young population of more than 52 million, an ambitious roadmap for political reform, and on the cusp of rapid economic development, since 2010 the world’s attention has been drawn to Myanmar or Burma.

But underlying recent political transitions are other wrenching social changes and shocks, a set of transformations less clearly mapped out. Relations between ethnic and religious groups, in the context of Burma’s political model of a state composed of ethnic groups, are a particularly important “unsolved equation”.

The editors use the notion of metamorphosis to look at Myanmar today and tomorrow—a term that accommodates linear change, stubborn persistence and the possibility of dramatic transformation. Divided into four sections, on politics, identity and ethnic relations, social change in fields like education and medicine, and the evolutions of religious institutions, the volume takes a broad view, combining an anthropological approach with views from political scientists and historians. This volume is an essential guide to the political and social challenges ahead for Myanmar.

"...enhances our understanding of how Burma is being transformed, but also entices the reader to keep the conversation going by reading more." - Iliyana Angelova, University of Oxford

“a must-read for anyone who wants to know what is really happening in Myanmar…” - Yoko Hayami, American Ethnologist

"For those who are fascinated with the current phase of Myanmar’s metamorphosis from a socialist and military-dominated nation to a capitalist and civilian-dominated government following the elections of 2015, this volume is essential reading." - Robert H. Taylor

"The chapters overviewing an array of political, social, religious and ethnic issues is a fine compendium of sound research and argument..." - David Scott Mathieson, The Irrawaddy

"Metamorphosis deserves praise as a wide-ranging, serious effort to analyze current trends beyond stereotypes and simple answers..." - Michele Penna, Asia Sentinel


Renaud Egreteau is a 2015‒16 Fellow at the Wilson Center, Washington DC, and an IRASEC Associate. He co-authored Soldiers and Diplomacy in Burma (NUS Press, 2013).

François Robinne is anthropologist, director of research at CNRS and the former head of IRASEC (2012-16), Bangkok.

IRASEC Series on Contemporary Asia
Publication Year: 2015
448 pages, 229mm x 152mm 
ISBN: 978-9971-69-866-9

NUS Press