Introduction: Coming to Terms with Moral Authorities in Myanmar

Justine Chambers, Nick Cheesman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    In post-dictatorship Myanmar, authority rests uncertainly on a host of proliferating appeals to morality. It depends on authorities' enactment of moral claims. The claims are not uniform. Nor are the authorities that make them self-evident. For both these reasons, this article foregrounds these moral authorities in its discussion of authority. It asks how religious beliefs and cultural norms inform authoritative work in Myanmar today, and what practices people adopt when relating to moral authorities. Pointing to the articles in this special section, it stresses the variability of moral authority, and the diversity of encounters with it in towns, villages and armed groups' enclaves. The recent ethical turn in anthropology, it suggests, can inform research on moral authorities by drawing out the multiple and seemingly contradictory ways that people come to know and relate to them. In so doing, it invites ethical questions about the study of moral authorities and their relationship to violence in Myanmar, particularly in light of the massive atrocities visited on Muslims in Rakhine State, and widespread anti-Muslim sentiment across the country.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)231-257
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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