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                                              General Course Information

GEOG 341
Burma (Myanmar): Geographies of Anti-Development

0.1250 EFTS   15 Points
Summer School 5 January – 12 February 2010

Burma was one of the first Asian colonies to receive independence (1948) at which time it
was a well-educated and, by Asian standards, wealthy society. Its post-independence
experience has however been catastrophic: the longest established and one of the most
authoritarian military regimes; least-developed country status; civil war; hard drug
production; a severe AIDS problem; and collapse of traditional staple industries. These
issues are addressed, paying particular attention to the period since 1962. Geography
341 is an interactive exploration of the ongoing crisis in Burma. Why is a resource rich
country once regarded as a good prospect for sustainable development now seen as a
total disaster? Answers: bad government manifest in political corruption and armed
conflict; resource mismanagement; failed infrastructure; public health and education in
crisis; popular uprisings. The course's intellectual perspective is that of geography but it
will be accessible to committed students from other subject areas. To find out more visit; and then enrol for Geog 341.

Lectures and Lecturers:

Wednesdays and Fridays 9 am – 12 noon

There will be no classes in GEOG 341 on Wednesday 20th January and Friday 22nd January. This
is to accommodate the requirements of GEOG 340 since many GEOG 341 students are also
enrolled in GEOG 340.

Lecturer and Course Co-ordinator:
Dr Peter Perry, Room 512 Geography, extn 4916 (for summer school period), e-mail

Dr Peter Perry: a staff member in Geography 1966-2001. I became interested in Burma
c.1990 and published several articles and journalistic pieces. With one exception (an
article on drugs and the Golden Triangle, Cahiers d’Outre Mer 1993 – translation
available), I do not regard them as of any lasting value – but like you I had to begin
somewhere. My book on Burma (see reading) was published in January 2007 (without
my being able to visit the country) and I have a continuing research agenda. The reviews
so far available are interestingly approving.

Class test – 40%
Project – 40%
        (topic to be agreed with Dr Perry) of about 2500 words to be handed in by
        Monday 15 February 9 a.m. departmental office, 5th floor Geography building
Participation in tutorials – 20%
Workload is estimated at about 30 hours per week (classes included) over a period of 5/6
Examination and Formal Tests
Test: date to be arranged late January

No textbook. See Reading below.

Any 30 points of 200 level Geography, or any 90 points approved by HOD.

Goal of the Course
A wide ranging understanding of contemporary Burma from the perspective of the
geographer. Particular attention will be given to the ‘failed’ development of natural and
human resources since 1962 and to the major contemporary issues – political power and
political protest, human rights, environmental contexts and impacts, ongoing social
problems, and the informal/illegal sectors.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the course a student should understand and be able to
discuss in an informed and intelligent fashion the issues outlined above whether with an
expert in the field or an uninformed enquirer. He/she should also be able to handle the
controversial and contested aspect of these issues.

Summary of the Course Content
The starting point is the natural and cultural environment in a spatial and historical context
with particular reference to resources. The focus will be primarily on the period since
1962, when the army seized power, and the present situation. Some aspects are likely to
be familiar: Aung San Suu Kyi, popular protest, the dung trade. Others are perhaps more
fundamental: rice, teak and gems (the principal resources); the changing character of
insurgency; the failure of infrastructure; the dilemmas of the global community. How are
these connected? Why are they so often disfunctionally connected? How (and when and
by whom) might they be better connected?

Course Outline
The basis of the course is firstly reading (see below for details), and secondly lectures
and interactive tutorials (Wednesdays and Fridays 9 a.m. – 12 noon, beginning on
Wednesday 6 January 2010). There will be no classes in GEOG 341 on Wednesday 20th
January and Friday 22nd January - this is to accommodate the requirements of GEOG
340 since many GEOG 341 students are also enrolled in GEOG 340.

The course takes as its organising theme the question of connexions. These will be
complemented and extended by discussion tutorials based on prescribed readings.
Attendance at classes is essential as is participation in discussion: note however that
there may be one week with no formal teaching, to accommodate joint enrolment with
other geography courses. The course is not available on line. However, much of the
material to be read is most readily accessible there.

The best way to begin:
read    either Fink, C. (ed.) Living Silence: Burma under military rule, 2nd ed 2001.
        or     Perry, P.J. Myanmar (Burma) since 1962: the failure of development,
then some recent work:
               Turnell, S. ‘Burma’s economy 2008: current situation and prospects for
                        reform’, Burma Economic Watch, May 2008. (A free and most
                        useful internet journal from Macquarie University, Sydney.)
               Kingston, J. ‘Burma’s Despair’, Critical Asian Studies, 2005.

Note this is just a beginning. There is a great deal of material but still a great deal less
than for any other country of comparable size. Your wider reading will to a degree be tied
up with your project. Note also media sources, especially New York Times, Economist,
Financial Times and web sites. Burmanetnews and altsean are good starting points.
Online Burma/Myanmar library is an excellent overall guide. Major items will be on
reserve in the University Library. I will also make my own collection of reprints available.

Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung (2003), ‘The socio-economic impacts of rice policies
         implementation in rural Burma/Myanmar’, Sojourn, 18(2), pp.299-321.
Asian Survey – special issue on Burma, November/December 2008.
Bryant, R.L. (1988), ‘The politics of forestry in Burma’ in P. Hirsch and C. Warren (eds),
         The Politics of Environment in Southeast Asia, pp.107-121.
Genis, R. (1997), ‘The Burma Ruby and Sapphire situation’, Gemstone Forecaster, 15(2
         and 3). (An example of the valuable material to be found in technical/trade
         journals available on the internet.)
Kyaw Yin Hlaing (2000), ‘The political economy of Hmaung-kho in socialist Myanmar’,
         Kasarinlan, pp.65-114. (Hmaung-Kho is the illegal informal sector.)
Kyaw Yin Hlaing (2004), ‘Reconciling Burma’, NBR Analysis, 15(1), pp.73-85. (A free
         access internet journal.)
Kyaw Yin Hlaing (2005), ‘Myanmar in 2004: why military rule continues’, Southeast Asian
         Affairs, pp.231-56.
Kyaw Yin Hlaing (2007), ‘The politics of state – society relations in Burma’, South East
         Asia Research, pp.213-54.
Levy and C. Scott Clark (2001), The Stone of Heaven: the secret history of imperial green
         jade, chapter 12, pp.329-63. (An account of the contemporary industry.)
Lintner, B. and Black, M. (2009), Merchants of Madness: the methamphetamine
         explosion in the Golden Triangle.
Smith, M. (1991), ‘Insurgency as a way of life’ in Smith, M. Burma: insurgency and the
         politics of ethnicity, pp.88-101.
Turnell, S. (2009), Fiery dragon: banks, money-lenders and microfinance in Burma.
Warr, P.G. (2000) ‘The failure of Myanmar’s agricultural policies’, Southeast Asian Affairs,
Finally note that most of these predate important events in September 2004.

Marks and Grades
The Geography Department uses the following scale to convert marks into grades:
             100 – 85 A+          60 – 64     B-
             80 – 84   A          55 – 59     C+
             75 – 79   A-         50 – 54     C
             70 – 74   B+         45 – 49     C-
             65 – 69   B          Below 45 D/E

Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities should, where appropriate, speak with the teacher of the course,
and if necessary with someone at Disability Resource Service. Their office is room 420 in
the Erskine Building (Mathematics and Computer Science Building). Phone: 364 2350 (or
ext. 6350), email:

Policy on Dishonest Practice
Plagiarism, collusion, copying and ghost writing are unacceptable and dishonest

        • Plagiarism is the presentation of any material (text, data, figures or drawings, on
any medium including computer files) from any other source without clear and adequate
acknowledgement of the source.
        • Collusion is the presentation of work performed in conjunction with another
person or persons, but submitted as if it has been completed only by the named
        • Copying is word for word or simple paraphrase of material (in any medium,
including computer files) produced by another person(s).
        • Ghost writing is the use of another person(s) (with or without payment) to
prepare all or part of an item submitted for assessment.
In cases where dishonest practice is involved in tests or other work submitted for credit,
the student will be referred to the University Proctor. The instructor may choose to not
mark the work.

Reconsideration of Grades
Students should, in the first instance, speak to the course co-ordinator about their marks.
If they cannot reach an agreeable solution, or have questions about their grade in a
course, students should then speak to the Head of the Geography Department, Assoc
Prof Wendy Lawson, room 508, phone 3642920,
Students can appeal any decision made on their final grade. You can apply at the
Registry for reconsideration of the final grade within four weeks of the date of publication
of final results. Be aware that there are time limits for each step of the appeals process.

Aegrotat Applications
If you feel that illness, injury, bereavement or other critical circumstances has prevented
you from completing an item of assessment or affected your performance, you should
complete an aegrotat application form, available from the Registry or the Student Health
and Counselling Service. This should be within seven days of the due date for the
required work or the date of the examination. In the case of illness or injury, medical
consultation should normally have taken place shortly before or within 24 hours after the
due date for the required work, or the date of the test or examination. For further details
on aegrotat applications, please refer to the Enrolment Handbook. You have the right to
appeal any decision made, including aegrotat decisions.

Missing of Tests
In rare cases a student will not be able to sit a test or complete other work by the due
date. In such cases, the student should consult with Dr Perry to arrange alternative
procedures. This must be done well in advance of the set date for the test.

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