Good neighbors : acceptance of ethnic minorities in Myanmar


Research output: Working paperWorking paper series


For four years since 2011, Myanmar has sought to make a transition to democracy. One clear comparative lesson is that respect for ethnic and religious minorities is essential for the creation of a stable, consolidated democracy. Feeding into this are protection of both individual and group rights, policies promoting inclusiveness and non-discrimination, and a more general sense among minority groups that a level political playing field means that they too could one day have the chance to attain majority status. This literature is relevant to Myanmar because of the deep ethnic and religious fragmentation and conflict that have long characterized it. This paper therefore seeks to look beyond elite attempts to generate national reconciliation by exploring whether reconciliation is currently taking place at the grassroots level. Are ethnic and religious minorities accepted by the Bamar Buddhist majority? In order to
investigate the acceptance of ethnic minorities in the wake of peripheral war in Kachin State and pogroms against the Rohingyas, we have just completed a probabilistic survey of 1002 adults in Myanmar. The core finding is that two distinct dynamics of reconciliation are at work in the society: one views the Kachin as an ethnic group, and the other views the Rohingya as a religious group. The two different sets of predictors suggest that distinct theories explain why Bamar Buddhists are able, or not able, to live as good neighbors with the two groups.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherSoutheast Asia Research Centre, City University of Hong Kong
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

Publication series

NameSEARC Working Paper Series
PublisherSoutheast Asia Research Centre, City University of Hong Kong

Bibliographical note

The research reported in this paper was supported by an award from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China for the project “Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in Myanmar” [Project No. LU340613].


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