“Water in One Hand, Fire in the Other:” Coping with Multiple Crises in Post-coup Burma/Myanmar

May 10, 2023 - Ardeth M Thawnghmung, Su Mon Thazin Aung, Naw Moo Moo Paw, <boughton@msu.edu>

Thawnghmung, A. M., Mon, S., Moo, N., & Boughton, D. (2023). Water in One Hand, Fire in the Other: Coping with Multiple Crises in Post-coup Burma/Myanmar. 1–24.


This paper discusses how different groups within Myanmar’s population respond to multiple crises caused by the 2021 military coup, the economic and social consequences of multiple waves of Covid-19 and increasing global food and fuel prices. It is based on monthly observation reports (MOR) by local researchers to focus on the range of actions taken by Myanmar’s silent accommodating majority. Contrary to conventional studies that treat “loyalty” and “passive resistance” as separate categories of individual or collective responses to government failures, this paper introduces “accommodation” as a strategy to reflect actions by those who have engaged in both compliance and passive resistance to deal with the military dictatorship in Myanmar. Those who practice accommodation strategies prioritize safety-first approaches that avoid open resistance to the military regime while simultaneously challenging its claim to legitimacy. Some of the strategies that undermine the military regime’s claim to legitimacy, however, such as the civil disobedience movement in education and healthcare, further deprive the state of the resource to serve the needs of the general population and thus have detrimental and long-term impacts on individuals who use these.


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