While the image of modern Myanmar/Burma tends to be couched in human rights terms - and especially of a heroic Aung San Suu Kyi opposing and oppressive military regime - in reality there are several conflicts with ethnic and religious dimensions, as well as political and ideological differences between the opposition and the ruling military regime. This is not surprising in a country where 30% of the population and much of the land area are non-Burman, and where contradictory tendencies towards regional separatism versus unitary rule have divided the people since before independence.
In what is probably the most comprehensive study of Burma’s ethnic minorities to date, this volume discusses the historical formation of ethnic identity and its complexities in relation to British colonial rule as well as the modern state, the present situation of military rule, and its policy of "myanmarification." Changes of identity in exile due to religious conversion are analyzed and discussed.
Finally the book deals with relevant and recent anthropological and sociological theoretical discussions on the ethnic identity, boundaries, and space of all the main ethnic groups in Burma.