Friday, July 21, 2006

Burma Studies in the United States:
A petty game of academic politics?

Has Catherine Raymond, the current head of the Center for Burma Studies in the United States at Northern Illinois University, achieved anything during her tenure?

Or has this Center of Burma Studies for the whole United States finally reached the status of irrelevance that locating it in the middle of a corn field in DeKalb, Illinois would seem inevitably to consign it to?

For too long, academics in Burma Studies have exploited the obscurity of Burma as a subject and acted as veritable wizards (or wizardesses) of Oz with respect to their subject matter.

Why can they get away with this?

Why can they get away with not having critical scrutiny directed at them?

The limited resources of the field mean:

1. They stick uncritically together in small cliques to protect their resources.

2. Their work is not subject to critical scrutiny because those scholars that do exist in their areas of specialty and who know of serious flaws in their scholarship, are too afraid of speaking out, and instead direct their comments through third party scholars. The real critical scrutiny is never made public. What is the result?

A pitiful simulcrum of scholarship.