Myanmar Media in Transition: Legacies, Challenges and Change

Myanmar Media in Transition: Legacies, Challenges and Change
Date of publication:  2019
Publisher:  ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
Number of pages:  407
Code:  BM572
Soft Cover
ISBN: 9789814843096
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"This volume is the first of its kind in English, including both empirical and theoretical contributions, by academics and practitioners, foreigners and Myanmar people. It will be essential reading for anyone interested in Myanmar media, at least in the recent past. The struggle for free media, justice and democracy in Myanmar continues, in many cases through the ongoing work of those included in this important volume."

Kristina Simion, Journal of Burma Studies, Vol. 24 No. 2, Dec 2020. 

"This edited collection of twenty-one chapters provides a thorough introduction to developments in Myanmar's media sector since the country's political opening enhanced by valuable historical glimpses. The book fills an important gap in the existing literature on media and transition by moving beyond a focus on economic forces of change to covering grassroots change agents and the "non-state and non-commercial efforts that also compel and propel change during transition" (P.8.).

Overall, the chapters offer important insights, and the book makes an important and affordable contribution to the English-language scholarship on Myanmar's media landscape. The book provides snapshots of intricately complex issues, from a balanced mix of writers from Myanmar and abroad, and offers a critical assessment of the sector during the complex political transition as well as on-the-ground, factual, and experiential data and insights from insiders and their vibrant optimism. 

While the book addresses current challenges, such as the use of social media in spreading hate speech, swift legal and regulatory reforms, reporting on the crisis in Rakhine, and the shifting boundaries of free expression, these issues are placed within the country's broader social, political, and economic context. As such the book will serve as an important companion for understanding these issues from a historical perspective as a foundation for the future that, despite a flourishing and expanding media sector, is likely to continue to present challenges for all actors involved."

Robert H, Taylor. Asian Affairs, Vol. L, no. IV, 648 -651, 2019. 

This is a substantial collection of essays on Myanmar's media before and during the transition from military rule to the present form of constitutional government. ... While much has changed, much remains the same, and, as the authors of this volume make clear, the second constitutional government following elections in 2015, has reversed some of the openings introduced by the previous former military regime. 

The three editors and 20 contributors to Myanmar Media in Transition have for greater of lesser periods of time, been involved in operating or developing the media in the country. Among the 12 Myanmar contributors, some are experienced journalists and writers, some describe their experience in developing the media, while others contemplate what has gone well and what has gone badly during the transition. As the first substantial volume of its kind on an important aspect in Myanmar's political transition, the editors are to be congratulated on producing an original contribution to more fully understanding Myanmar and its trials and tribulations in recent years. 

Daniel Wood, Tea Circle, 2019.

In the first book-length critical media study of Myanmar after the "democratic transition," Myanmar Media in Transition: Legacies, Challenges and Change exposes the struggles of Myanmar's decade-long transition towards democracy. 

Mon Mon Myat insightfully points out that this conflict (the complex dynamics of censorship [which] reach beyond state action) reveals two kinds of external censorship: state censorship and community censorship of prevailing ethno-religious nationalism. 

Chapter 17, " A 'Fierce' Fear: Literature and Loathing After the Junta," ... also provides one of the most lucid descriptions to date of the long-term psychological effects of military domination on Myanmar's political consciousness. 

Chapter 18, "The Teashop Meets the 8 O'clock News: Facebook, Convergence and Online Public Spaces," Yan Naung Oak and Lisa Brooten ... methodically tracks the social media use of ten prominent politicians in Myanmar, tracing the ways that users engage with their constituents online.

Overall, Myanmar Media in Transition is a must-read for people interested in Myanmar and media reforms, as well as those interested in social and psycho-linguistic impacts of authoritarianism on political thought and participation. As the book points out, critical media studies have yet to become institutionalized in Myanmar, as the nation's largest academic institutions have yet to recover from the devastation of decades of military rule, which destroyed social structures that foster critical thought. This book, then, not only documents media studies at an exceptionally complex political juncture, but also paves the way for future scholarship in an emerging field." 

About the publication

Myanmar Media in Transition: Legacies, Challenges and Change is the first volume to overview the country’s contemporary media landscape, providing a critical assessment of the sector during the complex and controversial political transition. Moving beyond the focus on journalism and freedom of the press that characterizes many media-focused volumes, Myanmar Media in Transition also explores developments in fiction, filmmaking, social movement media and social media. Documenting changes from both academic and practitioner perspectives, the twenty-one chapters reinforce the volume’s theoretical arguments by providing on-the-ground, factual and experiential data intended to open useful dialogue between key stakeholders in the media, government and civil society sectors. Providing an overview of media studies in the country, Myanmar Media in Transition addresses current challenges, such as the use of social media in spreading hate speech and the shifting boundaries of free expression, by placing them within Myanmar’s broader historic social, political and economic context.

“Myanmar Media in Transition: Legacies, Challenges and Change is the first and most comprehensive study of the role of media in contemporary Myanmar from a range of perspectives, including scholars, practitioners, journalists, artists, and activists. This edited book is easily accessible, illuminating and timely. This is a welcome addition and a great contribution to Myanmar studies. I highly recommend it.”
Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung
Professor and Chair
University of Massachusetts Lowell
“A unique and urgent collection of essays that captures the menacing Zeitgeist of Myanmar’s embattled media. Fusing foreign academic analysis and Myanmar media practitioner experiences, this book will stand as the seminal study of press freedoms of the past and present for many years to come.”
David Scott Mathieson
Independent Myanmar Analyst and Author
“This volume of academic essays and practitioner reflections provides a nuanced understanding of Myanmar media in the post-2010 semi-democratic era. Vested interests, vaguely defined laws, and societal norms all constrain media actors, but many have also found ways to address critical issues and offer audiences new perspectives. This book will be of great relevance to all who are interested in Myanmar, media studies, and societies in transition.”
Christina Fink
Professor of Practice of International Affairs
The Elliott School of International Affairs
The George Washington University

"This book sheds light on how a military-orchestrated democratic transition in Myanmar brought forth only the mere impression of press freedom in the country.”
Swe Win
Chief Editor, Myanmar Now

"This book sheds light on how a military-orchestrated democratic transition in Myanmar brought forth only the mere impression of press freedom in the country.”
Swe Win
Chief Editor, Myanmar Now


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