Women and power in Burmese history

Jessica Harriden (2008). Women and power in Burmese history PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

       
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n33335335_PhD_abstract.pdf Final Thesis Lodgement_33335335_PhD_abstract application/pdf 13.95KB 0
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Author Jessica Harriden
Thesis Title Women and power in Burmese history
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2008-12
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Professor Martin Stuart-Fox
Professor Robert Elson
Total pages 327
Total black and white pages 327
Subjects 430000 History and Archaeology
Abstract/Summary This thesis examines the relationship between women and power in Burmese history, from the third century CE to the present day (2008), in order to identify the sources, nature and limitations of women’s power. In particular, the thesis aims to resolve the apparent contradiction that Burmese women historically enjoyed relatively ‘high’ social status and economic influence, yet for the most part remained conspicuously absent from the public political arena. The author demonstrates that, while some women exercised significant political influence through their familial connections with powerful men, cultural models of ‘correct’ female behaviour prevented most women from seeking official positions of political authority. The thesis considers how cultural and political influences – Buddhism, colonialism, nationalism and militarism – shaped Burmese concepts of gender and power, which relegated women to ‘traditional’ subordinate, supporting political roles. The thesis also explores how the effects of prolonged armed conflict, economic isolation and political oppression have limited women’s ability to exercise power in military-ruled Burma. The author considers whether the pro-democracy movement and the recent focus on women’s issues and rights have opened up any new opportunities for women to exercise power both inside Burma and in exile. Finally, the thesis demonstrates that there is a need to critically re-examine traditional historical representations of Burmese women as passive objects with no political agency, both to highlight women’s use of informal power and to explain why so few women gained access to formal power.
Keyword Burma
history
women
gender
power
politics

 
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