Publication Date

Summer 7-28-2013

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

John Ungerleider

Abstract

At sixty years plus, the civil war in Burma (Myanmar) is currently the longest ongoing civil war in the world. There are approximately 135 recognized ethnic groups which inhabit Burma. These vast cultural differences and identities play an important role in this protracted civil war. There are several million refugees living in camps along the borders of the five different countries that Burma shares a border with. Additionally there is another one million Internally Displaced People (IDP’s) living in the jungles of Burma as a result of attacks on their villages by the military Dictatorship that has been firmly in power since 1962. This paper will explore the role of the various identities of all the players in this conflict along with the causes and issues preventing a peaceful solution. This paper will go on to explore the philosophy of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) named Free Burma Rangers (FBR) that conducts cross-border humanitarian relief missions by training and utilizing many of the ethnic Burmese. FBR is a most unique NGO that trains, supplies and supports over 80 four to five person relief teams that operate throughout all the ethnic states bringing help, hope and love to those IDP’s in need. FBR’s ideology and methodology offers the ethnics a unique collective identity separate from their own individual and group identities. FBR’s collective identity is examined in detail in this paper in order to explore the possibilities that FBR’s unique means of operating are in of themselves a means of promoting peace in areas involving intractable conflicts containing multiple ethnic players and cultural divides. The majority of my research for this paper comes from the numerous interactions I experienced from my day to day activities while working with FBR over the past 3 years in both Burma and Thailand.

Disciplines

Inequality and Stratification | Other International and Area Studies | Peace and Conflict Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology

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