Elite Young People in Myanmar’s Transformation: An ethnographic study of a new generation


From 2010 to 2016, Myanmar underwent rapid and significant economic, political and cultural change that rendered some prevailing mindsets out-dated and increasingly irrelevant. During this period, a new generation of elite young people worked to interpret the broad array of changes alongside existing social and cultural frameworks. While the political and economic dimensions of Myanmar’s democratisation and liberalisation have been the subject of sustained academic analysis, the role of these young people has been overlooked. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Yangon, this final PhD seminar provides an overview of my research, which analyses the role of five types of elite young people in the transformation of contemporary Myanmar and offers insights about the broader implications of research into elite young people during periods of major social change. I argue that once Myanmar’s transformation was initiated at the political level, elite young people developed the social transformation, in what proved to be competing and sometimes contradictory ways.

About the Speaker

Jacqueline Menager is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political and Social Change at the Australian National University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies (Honours I) from the ANU. Jacqueline worked for the Australian government as a senior political adviser at the Australian Embassy in Myanmar and has published in outlets including The Myanmar Times, New Mandala, East Asia Forum, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and South East Asia Research.

Podcast series

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