Living Silence in Burma

Surviving under Military Rule

Christina Fink


Offers an insightful picture of life under the repressive military dictatorship in Burma and the possibilities for change. This book analyses the strategies and techniques the army has deployed to maintain power, and provides insights into the life of ordinary Burmese people.
Eight years after the first edition of this insightful and highly regarded book, Burma remains one of the most troubled nations in Southeast Asia. While other countries have democratized and prospered, Burma is governed by a repressive military dictatorship and is the second largest producer of heroin in the world. In this exceptionally readable yet scholarly account of Burma today, Christina Fink gives a moving and insightful picture of what life under military rule is like. Through the extensive interviews conducted inside and outside the country, we begin to understand Burma's political and domestic situation and a comprehensive understanding of why military rule has lasted so long.

This significantly revised new edition includes material taking the reader up to present day action and accounts, including the impacts of the dramatic 2007 monks' demonstrations, which were coordinated with former student activists and members of Aung San Suu Kyi's party. The book explores the regime's continued attempts to weaken and divide the democratic movement and the ethnic nationalist organizations and explains how the democratic movement and ethnic groups have sought to achieve their goals; in part, by working more closely together.

Author Bio

Christina Fink is a Program Associate and Lecturer at the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute and Program Coordinator and Lecturer: in the Foreign Affairs Training Program, Chiang Mai, Thailand and Honorary Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Hong Kong.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Historical Legacies
  • 2. The Ne Win Years, 1962-88
  • 3. Breaking the Silence, 1988-90
  • 4. Military Rule Continues, 1990-2000
  • 5. The Than Shwe Years, 2000 and Beyond
  • 6. Families: Fostering Conformity
  • 7. Communities: Going with the Flow
  • 8. The Military: A Life Sentence
  • 9. Prison: 'Life University'
  • 10. Education: Floating Books and Bathroom Tracts
  • 11. The Artistic Community: In the Dark, Every Cat is Black
  • 12. Religion and Magic: Disappearing Jewels and Poltergeists
  • 13. The Internationalization of Burma's Politics
  • Conclusion: A Different Burma
  • Bibliography
  • Index


Praise for first edition

'Living Silence is particularly valuable for its study of the psychological effects of military rule on the people of Burma. The real struggle in Burma is the struggle between the desire to opt for the easy option of submitting to the demands of the powers that be and the commitment that leads to the hard road of resisting the threats and blandishments of a ruthless regime. By exploring the impact of military rule on the lives of ordinary people against a broad historical and social backdrop, Christina Fink makes an important contribution towards an understanding of the root causes of the problems and choices that the people of Burma are facing today.'
Aung San Suu Kyi

'The Burmese students have found their Boswell. Christina Fink has carefully recorded their statements and thoughts. Now, no one can dismiss the tragedy of Burma as the fiction of outsiders. These are the people who have and continue to live with it.'
Josef Silverstein, Rutgers University

'Christina Fink's Living Silence is a meticulous study of the surreal horror imposed upon the people of Burma by its illegitimate rulers. Read this book and never forget them.'
John Pilger


Publication Date: 30 July 2009
324 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback 2nd Edition: 9781848132726
eBook ePub 2nd Edition: 9781848137264
eBook PDF 2nd Edition: 9781848132733
eBook Kindle 2nd Edition: 9781780328300
Library Edition 2nd Edition: 9781848132719

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