Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her discontents

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A fascinating and often critical article in the Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her discontents. I had missed this until Jonathan Saha of the University of Bristol mentioned it.

It is by Elliot Prasse-Freeman, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Yale University.

His thesis is summed up by the following:

‘Ultimately, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s (DASSK) view that she embodies Burma may explain her spending precious party resource on changing the constitution just so she can be president. Indeed, because she believes she is an icon of Burma (not a symbol), then the will of the country can only be achieved if she is installed as its leader. And yet even as she makes such universalizing rhetorical claims, her political choices betray her pursuit of particular political goals: an elite neoliberal political agenda aligned with Burma’s vested interests. And so while – like most politicians anywhere – she deploys rhetoric that suggests that these policies are for the good of all, voices from below are emerging to carve out a new form of progressive politics that puts the needs of average people first, and which together throw DASSK’s claims into critical relief. Hence, the criticisms of DASSK may be seen less as examples of wounded and betrayed Burmese actors hoping she reasserts her salvific role, and more as an insistence that she no longer speaks for them, that there are new sets of political goals and values that they can articulate themselves.’

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