In recent years, scholarship on Burma, or Myanmar, has undergone a renaissance. Jayde Lin Roberts'Mapping Chinese Rangoon: Place and Nation among the Sino-Burmese (University of Washington Press, 2016) is a bellwether of exciting new books to come, and a model for how they might be done. Although Roberts completed much of her research for the book back under military dictatorship in the 2000s, she explores and situates the Sino-Burmese in downtown Rangoon, or Yangon, in a manner that anticipates and responds to the political changes of the 2010s, and with them, the current ethnographic turn towards Burma. In doing so, she delivers on the book's title, telling the hitherto largely untold story of the in-between place that Rangoon's Sino-Burmese community has occupied. But she does more than this, along the way drawing the readers attention towards the larger story of nation and state formation in Burma through the lens of a community that has for over a century struggled with how to be both local enough and Chinese enough in an enduringly colonial, yet distinctively postcolonial Southeast Asian city.
Jayde Lin Roberts joins New Books in Southeast Asian Studies to talk about temples as nested places, Chinese vernacular schooling, hungry ghosts, how tiger prawns built City Mart, and the tactical occupation of Rangoon's public spaces through lion dances.
Nick Cheesman is a fellow at the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University and in 2016-17 a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He can be reached at email@example.com