Hilary Oliva Faxon
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCornell U.
Grant numberGr. 9594
Approve DateApril 13, 2018
Project TitleFaxon, Hilary O., Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Making Myanmar: Struggles for Land on Asia's Last Frontier,' supervised by Dr. Wendy Wolford
HILARY O. FAXON, then a graduate student at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2018 to aid research on “Making Myanmar: Struggles for Land on Asia’s Last Frontier,” supervised by Dr. Wendy Wolford. Months after Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi took power in Myanmar, international media declared the resolution of land conflicts a litmus test for democratic rule. Today, Myanmar’s almost 40 million farmers remained mired in land disputes, displaced by armed conflict or military-era acquisitions, or without ownership documents, even as the new government promises unprecedented prosperity through integration with global markets. This study explores struggles for land at a frontier of agricultural development and ethnic territory in Myanmar’s northwest, examining the historical constitution of the material and social landscape, the ways in which land claimants represent themselves and their ties to land, and the proliferating paper and digital forms of evidence that circulate among farmers, activists, developers, and officials to analyze how claims to land hail new political subjects and reshape the Myanmar state. Based on interviews, participatory research, and ethnographic engagement, this project contributes to anthropologies of the state, land, and documents and digital media in conversation with scholarship on peasants, rural life, and political authority in Burma and Southeast Asia.