Archaeology for Whom? Challenging Burmese-Centric Narratives in Myanmar Archaeology

May Su Ko1, Tin Htut Aung2, Nandar Yukyi3

1Independent scholar, SOAS Alphawood Alumni, Myanmar; 

2Independent Scholar,Okayama University-Alumni, Myanmar

3Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, U.S.A.

This study explores the issues and challenges of Burmese-centric points of view in Myanmar archaeology. There are many possibilities indicating why Burmese-centric narratives are popular among local archaeologists. These possibilities include Burmese being the majority of Myanmar’s population, most archaeological projects being conducted at the sites in areas where Burmese people live, and those taking leading roles in archaeological projects being predominantly Burmese. In contrast to this, there are only a few archaeological projects conducted in the area where other ethnic minorities live. Moreover, the main museums from Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon display archaeology and fine arts of Burmese people rather than those of ethnic minorities. Therefore, the archaeology of ethnic minorities is rather beyond, and sometimes lost, under the Burmese-centric point of view. In this presentation, we will discuss why the archaeology of ethnic minorities should also be viewed as an important part of Myanmar in the past, as well as promoting diverse perspectives and the role of ethnic minorities in Myanmar archaeology.