During January and February I spent some time in Myanmar, on the eastern and western flanks. Over the coming months there will be plenty of opportunity for me to talk and write about some of the issues.
The first public outing for those impressions and analysis will be the Myanmar Update Conference at the Australian National University next month. I will be offering an overview of ethnic politics, broadly defined. You can still register to attend online. I should note that for the 2013 conference there are a number of innovations, including a Myanmar language session.
In the meantime, and while some of my thoughts are still relatively fresh, I figured it worth presenting a few New Mandala micro-posts based on photos I snapped.
This one, from Mon State, picks up the presence of a newly revitalised idol, Aung San Suu Kyi, who finds her place in the already cluttered market-place of desirable images. Given all the recent political action it is unsurprising that one of the most in-your-face trends in Myanmar today is the ready availability of Aung San Suu Kyi and Aung San paraphernalia. With one unexpected exception — which I plan to explain in a future micro-post — she (and he) are pretty much everywhere.
As an aside, across eastern Myanmar the formal presence of the National League for Democracy (NLD) was also striking, to me at least. At some stage it may be useful to ponder what that could mean for the 2015 election: a civilianised Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army political party competing with the NLD, toe-to-toe? I am also intrigued about how the Union Solidarity and Development Party would manage such competition. Who is their natural ally? And which set of idols will the locals want to support?