Re: Guest Post - Rohingyas

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Not directly related to the Rohingya issue, but another saga of postwar Burma was with another Indian ethnic group, the Chettiars (PDF link), Hindus I think, from Tamil Nadu. They had been moneylenders and ended up (related to the global agricultural depression in the 30's) collecting a lot of farmland into their hands, so land reform was probably well overdue, but partially in responses the Japanese invasion, and fully by the 1962 coup, they were demonized enough to flee the country, eventually losing everything legally. Presumably they seemed to the new government another piece of the British divide-and-conquer tactics, but their treatment doesn't speak well to the multiethnic capacities of the new state.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 12:45 PM
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Burma probably has the worst success-vs-potential-in-1945 ratio of any country in the world.* What a series of unbelievably crappy politicians and good evidence that your state really can fail.

*Other possibilities - Equitorial Guinea, Cambodia. But Burma didn't even have a truly massive genocide (just some more minor ones) to recover from, just a bunch of governments that destroyed it, up to and including extremely overrated person Aung Sang Suu Kyi.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 1:36 PM
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I thing I heard from a part-Karen person recently said "Myanmar" is from "mranma", the dominant ethnic group. She said it was a bit like America renaming itself "Whiteland".


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 1:38 PM
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First footnote in the paper at 1:

Proof that such demonisation lives on in Burma is surely provided by the constant efforts by the country's ruling military regime to label (opposition leader and Nobel Laureate) Aung San Suu Kyi as a Chettiar.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 1:43 PM
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"Burma" is also based on the name of the dominant ethnic group. The difference is that "Burma" is "Myanma" after about 3 or 4 transliterations into different languages and eventually into English. See here.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 1:45 PM
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3: Let's not give people ideas.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 1:45 PM
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5 is interesting. So it's actually more like America renaming itself from Whiteland to "whiteland", but in Old High German or something.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 1:50 PM
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"Cracker Barrel" is too on the nose.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 1:59 PM
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That we're basically named "Henrietta" is bad enough.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 2:00 PM
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Only slightly off-topic: can anyone recommend a good general history of modern India (ideally covering all of colonial rule, partition, and the post-colonial period). I know bits and pieces but not nearly enough. When I've half-assedly tried to find such a book in the past I've been put off by the fact that respectable Indian historiography appears to be highly ideological and largely driven by hardcore Marxists, for whom I have (mostly, not always) pretty limited tolerance. That could be wrong; I don't know the historiography really at all either.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 2:30 PM
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5 is interesting. So it's actually more like America renaming itself from Whiteland to "whiteland", but in Old High German or something.

I think it's like if fascists took over a European country that already is sort of named after the dominant ethnic group but everyone has gotten used to it, and renamed it something that fascists think sounds cool, like "Germania".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 2:38 PM
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all of colonial rule, partition, and the post-colonial period

For an accurate and non-ideologically slanted take on those topics, wikipedia is surely your best bet.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 2:39 PM
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10. One book? Can't help there, but I'll write more anyway. I read parts of Lawson's book about the East India Company years ago, I really liked that. John Guy's book about Mughal carpets was super-interesting, a lot of detail about trade and regional development in Mughal India. The Mughal painting section of a good open stacks library is an excellent way to lose a week or two.

Not a history, but refers to a lot of real events that I then read more about, a framework-- Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. also Shame for Zia. I liked what I read of Ants among the elephants by Sujatha Gidla.

Selling beef is illegal in Maharashtra, and India has instituted an affirmative action system for low-caste people.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 3:19 PM
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correct italicization left as an exercise for the reader.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 3:20 PM
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If we're recommending fiction, A Suitable Boy covers the partition era. I have no idea about accuracy or evenhandedness, but I loved it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 3:43 PM
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I also loved A Suitable Boy! Everyone should read that book.* But I would like something not officially fiction to provide an anchor around the fiction.

*Also his verse novel/epic poem about the early 80s Bay Area, which gets big points for "why are you doing this."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 3:47 PM
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Pretend that "anchor around" was a competent metaphor, not maybe a .... hollow anchor you drop around a body to sink and drown it?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 3:51 PM
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The correct fiction reference is The Great Indian Novel, which mashes up figures from the independence movement with characters from the Mahabharata, thus making you an expert on both at once.

I was trying to remember where I learned modern Indian history when I realized my sources were very pro-Indian National Congress. For example, I think of Jinnah as one of the bad guys for pushing for an independent Pakistan. I think of every Congress figure as a hero except for the guy who sided with the Nazis (Subhas Bose).


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 3:53 PM
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*Also his verse novel/epic poem about the early 80s Bay Area,

Yes! Every page a sonnet in tetrameter, including the table of contents! Loved that book.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 3:55 PM
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And then An Equal Music was sort of drably disappointing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 3:55 PM
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18 - was it the movie Gandhi staring Ben Kingsley?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 3:56 PM
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starring. Movie did not feature Ben Kingsley and Gandhi in a staring contest. Not my best day.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 3:57 PM
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It isn't (at all) what you're asking for, but I remember the London Review of Books liking Empire of Tea: The Asian Leaf that Conquered the World

The genre of 'The Food/Drink/Condiment that Made the Modern World' (salt, spices, maize, cod, oysters, refrigerated beef, the battery chicken, the Big Mac) has become a cliché, and many performances of this sort are shallow, overstated or merely cute. But in the right hands, telling the history of foodstuffs and foodways responds to current calls for histories of wider scope: histories of the longue durée; of global exchanges and contacts between cultures; and of the relations between human doings, things and the environment. Empire of Tea is an important example, sometimes brilliantly told, worth standing alongside Sidney Mintz's classic Sweetness and Power (1985) as a history of modernity told through one of its consumable commodities.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 4:14 PM
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OP link 1 links some relevant looking books, none of which I've read.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 5:04 PM
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No way am I recursive clicking on like 45 links to specialized topics find a book to read. There has to be some good general history somewhere!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 5:20 PM
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I am going to order this thing unless someone tells me otherwise.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 5:22 PM
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I insist you buy that book.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 5:53 PM
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In about three months, I'm going to need the favor returned when I ask if I should replace my phone and the unspoken reason boils down to "Pokemon Go is too slow".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-23-18 5:58 PM
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The borderlands -- Balochistan, Northwest Frontier Province, Kashmir, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Assam, Nagaland, Arakan, and elsewhere -- have kept bleeding since [1947]

Technically true but misleading. It's not as though Nagaland, Balochistan (!!) and the Northwest Frontier Province (!!!) were very peaceful before [1947] either.
Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are also not "borderlands" in that sense; they border Iran and Afghanistan, neither of which were ever British territory. Partition/independence didn't make them any more border-y than they already were.

(Also, "Northwest Frontier Province"? It hasn't been called that in a while...)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-24-18 2:53 AM
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they border Iran and Afghanistan

Large chunks of them are in Iran or Afghanistan, which doesn't make things any easier.

Are we having this discussion without mentioning Kashmir?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-24-18 5:49 AM
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29.1: Sure. OP 1 doesn't have the best chosen title. The broader points IMO are the newness and messiness of the current S Asian states and the way intra-imperial migrations created or worsened communal problems after independence. cf Sri Lanka Malaysia Fiji Suriname etc.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-24-18 6:07 AM
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Large chunks of them are in Iran or Afghanistan

I think the author is talking about the actual political entities: the provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. But, yes, there are a lot of Pashtuns in Afghanistan and a lot of Baloch in Iran, and that doesn't help matters. (On the other hand, it's debatable whether Pakistan would be better off if it had all the Pashtuns and Baloch inside its borders. The fewer the better, in a lot of ways, with those guys.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-24-18 6:41 AM
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the way intra-imperial migrations created or worsened communal problems after independence.

I am quite struck by the way that it's obvious and uncontroversial that the British allowing lots of Indians to migrate to work and raise families in Burma was a stupid idea that inevitably created a lot of intercommunal tensions and even violence, and they shouldn't have done it, but the British allowing lots of Indians to migrate to work and raise families in Britain was a great plan and has made the country the terrrific multicultural success it is today.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-24-18 6:49 AM
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33: And both descriptions are actually true! And can even be applied correctly to both countries, according to the paper in 1.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01-24-18 7:00 AM
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34: Is that because they already had good Indian food in Burma?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-24-18 7:29 AM
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29.last. What is it called now? I still see the name used a lot in newspaper articles and on the internet.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 01-25-18 7:12 AM
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36 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since 2010, apparently. I missed that too. It seems the name change was as controversial as everything else in Pakistani politics. The Awami LeagueNational Party predictably wanted it to be called "Pakhtunkhwa" (Pashto for Pashtun Land), and everybody else was against it. Blood was shed. All the non-Pashtuns living in the province now want their own province. So it goes.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01-25-18 8:28 AM
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Periodic reminder that there was a popular pacifist Pashtun movement rooted in Islam in the 1930s and 40s that numbered over 100,000 (I've seen estimates as high as 300-400,000) strong. I'm not personally a fan of the genre but we could use a Ghaffer Khan biopic.
Another world is possible.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-25-18 9:38 AM
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10: oddly, hardcore marxists are to a first approximation right about everything.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 01-25-18 10:44 AM
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No they're not!


Posted by: Opinionated splinter sect of hardcore Marxists | Link to this comment | 01-25-18 10:46 AM
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Hardcore marxists are definitely 97% right about colonial india

Also at least it's not the other group of indian historiography which is populist fascism based of aryan theories of race.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-25-18 6:56 PM
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Hardcore marxists are definitely 97% right about colonial india

Also at least it's not the other group of indian historiography which is populist fascism based of aryan theories of race.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-25-18 6:56 PM
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I'm so, so down with that movie request in 38.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-25-18 8:08 PM
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Marx actually wrote quite a bit about colonial India, particularly the Mutiny.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-26-18 1:04 AM
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