ON MONKS AND MEMES : BUDDHIST SATIRE IN CONTEMPORARY MYANMAR

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (no ISBN/ISSN)peer-review

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Author(s)

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Conference

Title13th International Burma Studies Conference
PlaceThailand
CityBangkok
Period3 - 5 August 2018

Abstract

Satirical cartoonists in Myanmar have been allowed varying degrees of flexibility in who and what they satirize depending on the socio-political climate of their times. But there is one segment of the population that has remained off-limits to overt public criticism: Buddhist monks. While politicians, public figures, and non-monastic Buddhist religious groups and individuals have been satirized in cartoons published in various forms of popular media over the past century, publicly satirizing the monastic sangha has remained taboo --- until now. Before the widespread adoption of the Internet, the government had a tight grip on publishing privileges. But unlike the current Chinese government, for instance, the Myanmar government has tread lightly in attempting to suppress a culture of satire, allowing citizens with mobile phones to contribute to a growing art of cultural satire mostly in the form of cartoons and memes. Satirical cartoons and, especially, memes aimed at ridiculing and exposing vices of specific monks or aspects of the monastic sangha seen as corrupt (morally, politically, economically) are being created, adapted, and shared widely across Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. This paper will explore the history of religious satire in Myanmar, show how and why specific cartoons and memes are targeting certain segments of the monastic population, and argue how a positive reception of such satire bodes well for the future of freedom of expression in Myanmar.

Bibliographic Note

Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.

Citation Format(s)

ON MONKS AND MEMES : BUDDHIST SATIRE IN CONTEMPORARY MYANMAR. / Patton, Thomas.

2018. Paper presented at 13th International Burma Studies Conference, Bangkok, Thailand.

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (no ISBN/ISSN)peer-review