The Progress of Burmese Democracy

The Baltimore Zeitgeist

Author: Ava White, Johns Hopkins University

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The Southeast Asian country sandwiched between India and Thailand is going through an identity crisis: the US government refers to the country as Burma; however, the United Nations – and the country itself – maintains that its name is Myanmar, which in Burmese is simply a more formal version of the nominally colonial word “Burma.” The military junta that previously ran the country changed the name in 1989, but activists and governments around the world continued referring to the country as Burma to symbolize their opposition to the junta’s actions and their refusal to recognize the junta as a legitimate government. In recent years, Burma has begun the process of democratic reform, and many have been quick to jettison the term Burma in favor of Myanmar to recognize the new government. Yet this move has been premature, especially in light of the harsh…

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