Tea Circle’s Forum on Myanmar’s Water Ways

Tea Circle is now accepting submissions for a new forum on Myanmar’s Waterways.

Since its founding in November 2015, Tea Circle has been covering various subjects (politics, development, culture) related to Myanmar. In seeking to become a platform for debate and dialogue, we try to make space for many different opinions on diverse issues, expressed by our contributing authors inside and outside of the country. With that in mind, we are issuing a call for submissions to our next special forum, Myanmar’s Waterways: Rivers, Lakes and Coastal Bodies.

The rivers of Myanmar have always been considered both commercial and cultural arteries. Rivers are strategic connectivity corridors (linking people with places and with each other) and possess associated histories, folklore and meanings. Many people are dependent on the country’s rivers and lakes for daily livelihoods even as increases in river and lake tourism add to ecological pressures. The beauty and romanticism associated with bodies of water are accompanied by increasing challenges of modernisation, industrial pollution, excessive fishing, mining and construction of big dams. Riparian and wetland dependent communities are facing the brunt of this damage, with its effects on flora and fauna. Moreover river politics is connected to regional politics, as bodies of water become areas of contestation between countries and between state authorities and local communities. Rivers such as the Irrawaddy, Chindwin and Salween, lakes such as the Inle and Indawgyi, all have stories to tell, providing compelling learning narratives.

Uncontrolled development in Myanmar is also damaging  coastal ecosystems, particularly mangroves and coral reefs which protect against rising sea levels triggered by climate change. Resilience of coastal areas is a critical issue, as the construction of deep sea ports, gas pipelines, special economic zones (SEZs) and infrastructural projects will interfere with the sustainability of the coastal belt. The fast-paced development brought by Dawei, Kyauk Phyu and Thilawa is also leading to equally fast-paced change in the ecological landscape.

What do Myanmar’s waterways mean for its people? Are they essential components of heritage and culture? What narratives and nostalgia do they weave around them? What do they think of their transformation? What can be done to revive and restore them? How relevant is the debate between ecology and economics in the country? Do Myanmar’s waterways have the capacity to transcend conflicts and bring people together across borders on common concerns? What local innovations are being initiated to preserve lakes and create robust coastal management?

We aim to explore some of these questions at the Tea Circle – an online forum for new research on Burma/Myanmar at the University of Oxford. Tea Circle is open to not only academic analysis but to anyone who wishes to share his/her views on this very important subject of “Reviving our Waterways”.

Submissions should be sent by email to editor@teacircleoxford.com with the subject line “Myanmar’s Waterways”. The text of the submission should be attached in a word document with minimal formatting. A short biography (under 100 words) and byline should be included in the document, as well as a proposed title for the piece and a related image, if possible. We will make every effort to provide prompt feedback on submissions.

Picture: Pwe Kauk, all rights reserved.

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