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Southeast Asian Heritage

Learn more about the Southeast Asian communities in Lowell and the United States. Explore their history, heritage, and experiences.

“We have worked and will continue to work for media freedom and democracy in Myanmar. We will do our job to report in whatever situation and with whatever challenges that we may have.”— Soe Myint



Soe Myint
Soe Myint      Photo courtesy of Mizzima

Who is Soe Myint?

Journalist Soe Myint of Myanmar’s Mizzima News has been named UMass Lowell’s 2022 Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies. Soe Myint has been working in the media field since 1992 in different capacities from reporting, managing and training. He was in exile for 24 years while the country was under military dictatorship. He founded Mizzima (derived from the Pali word for “middle” or “moderate”) in New Delhi, India in 1998 together with Daw Thin Thin Aung who is currently being detained in Insein Jail, Yangon by the military junta.

In January 2012, Mizzima was the first exile media to move back inside Myanmar, after the country opened up to democratic change.

The military regime forcibly shut down its Free-To-Air Mizzima TV channel when it took over power on February 1, 2021. However, Mizzima continues to broadcast and publish independent news and information through two satellite Mizzima TV channels, FM radio, Mizzima Websites, Mizzima Facebook, Mizzima YouTube, and Mizzima Application, reaching more than 30 million readers and viewers every day inside and outside Myanmar. 


Soe Myint and his colleagues are presently working from different locations inside and outside the country to continue to operate as an independent media in Myanmar. He, along with 17 other Mizzima journalists, are being charged with 505 (A) by the junta for continued reporting, publishing, and broadcasting of Mizzima. Out of 18, four are currently in jail in Myanmar.

Soe Myint’s publications include the 2003 release “Burma File: A Question of Democracy”, as well as numerous articles in various newspapers and magazines. He is a regular speaker and invited guest at national and international forums on media in Myanmar.

Video: Burma’s Path to Genocide: A New Exhibition about the Rohingya

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Burma or Myanmar? the Struggle for National Identity

Burma, also known as Myanmar, strategically located between China and India, is one of the largest and most richly endowed states in Southeast Asia. Yet it remains both economically and politically underdeveloped. Why is this so? We argue that much of the reason has to do with an ongoing struggle for national identity. This struggle involves not only whether the state should be authoritarian or democratic, but how Burma's myriad ethnic minorities should be accommodated within it, what external reference national reference groups the country should identify and align with, and how it should move forward. Identity formation normally occurs much earlier in the national developmental process, but Burma has had unusually intransigent problems that were never successfully resolved during the colonial period and have simply been suppressed by force since then. This protracted divisiveness has stunted the nation's modernization and growth.Written from a unique perspective, this book on Myanmar deviates from the traditional authoritarian versus democratic rhetoric. Although that is certainly part of the picture, this multifaceted analysis focuses rather on the issue of identity formation -- an issue that has all too often failed to make the headlines. Much can be learned from Myanmar's identity problems, making this book essential reading for all students and professionals interested in development studies or comparative politics. By whatever name, Burma is not only a fascinating country but one likely to play an increasingly vital role in Asia's future.

Making of Modern Burma

Burma has often been portrayed as a timeless place, a country of egalitarian Buddhist villages, ruled successively by autocratic kings, British colonialists and, most recently, a military dictatorship. The Making of Modern Burma argues instead that many aspects of Burmese society today, from the borders of the state to the social structure of the countryside to the very notion of a Burmese identity, are largely the creations of the nineteenth century - a period of great change - away from the Ava-based polity of early modern times, and towards the 'British Burma' of the 1900s. The book provides a sophisticated and much-needed account of the period, and as such will be an important resource for policy makers and students as a basis for understanding contemporary politics and the challenges of the modern state. It will also be read by historians interested in the British colonial expansion of the nineteenth century.

Rebel politics: a political sociology of armed struggle in Myanmar's borderlands

Drawing on extensive fieldwork on the internal politics of the Kachin and Karen rebel movements, the book analyses the hidden social dynamics and everyday practices of political violence in Myanmar's war-torn borderlands to present a perspective on one of the world's longest running but least researched armed conflicts

From Grassroots Activism to Disinformation

This book reflects on the role of social media in the past two decades in Southeast Asia. It traces the emergence of social media discourse in Southeast Asia, and its potential as a "liberation technology" in both democratizing and authoritarian states. It explains the growing decline in internet freedom and increasingly repressive and manipulative use of social media tools by governments, and argues that social media is now an essential platform for control. The contributors detail the increasing role of "disinformation" and "fake news" production in Southeast Asia, and how national governments are creating laws which attempt to address this trend, but which often exacerbate the situation of state control.From Grassroots Activism to Disinformation explores three main questions: How did social media begin as a vibrant space for grassroots activism to becoming a tool for disinformation? Who were the main actors in this transition: governments, citizens or the platforms themselves? Can reformists "reclaim" the digital public sphere? And if so, how?