Geoffrey Aung

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia U.

Grant number

Gr. 9322

Approve Date

October 5, 2016

Project Title

Aung, Geoffrey, Columbia U., New York, NY- To aid research on 'Dispossession, Popular Politics, and Agrarian Futures in Southeast Burma/Myanmar,' supervised by Dr. Partha Chatterjee

Preliminary abstract: Several years into a major political transition in Burma (Myanmar), one of the largest infrastructure projects in the world is coming into being in Dawei, on the country’s southeast coast. The $56 billion Dawei project, as it is known — a special economic zone (SEZ) including a deep-sea port, a vast petrochemical complex, dual oil and gas pipelines, and road and rail links to Thailand — is the largest of an array of zonal-spatial infrastructure initiatives taking shape in rural Burma in recent years. It has also generated sustained mobilization around land, displacement, and environmental degradation, while the newly elected National League for Democracy (NLD) has signaled they will reassess the project due to concerns over its impacts. Thus after sustained struggles over rural industrialization and the dispossession of land and natural resources, Dawei is emerging frontally in a potential rethinking of the trajectories of capitalist development — even the meaning of agrarian futures — on a changing rural frontier. In and around Dawei, my dissertation research focuses ethnographic attention, layered with historical inquiry, on two related dimensions: processes of dispossession, and the range of social and political subjects, including popular political formations, that have materialized in tandem.