Short Essay Responses Assignment #1 (Emma Larkin’s Finding George Orwell in Burma)
Please type and single-space your responses to the following questions, clearly labeling the question being addressed and utilizing standard margins and a 12-point font. Your responses will be based primarily on the Larkin text, along with the chapters by Aung San Suu Kyi (“In Quest of Democracy” and “Freedom from Fear”) and associated class materials (discussions, powerpoints, in-class video, and on-line exercises). Include a citation (any standard format is fine) if you are: a) referring to information gleaned from outside of the Larkin text or Aung San Suu Kyi chapters; b) using a direct quotation from any source. Responses getting high marks will demonstrate the following characteristics: a thorough treatment of the issues raised in the question, well written, tight organization, and thoughtful. The exam is due in class on Monday, March 10th. Late assignments will be penalized one full letter grade per day.
- For many decades, Burma’s government has been widely considered one of the worst in the world. Unfortunately, many “post-colonial” nations (i.e., nations that were colonized in the past by Western nations but have now been granted independence) have been saddled with corrupt, inept, and tyrannical governments since gaining independence. A thread that weaves its way through Larkin’s text is the similarities between the ways in which the British colonial government ran Burma and the ways in which Burma’s military regime has operated. Because of these similarities, Aung San Suu Kyi has characterized the current period in Burmese history “the second struggle for independence” (the first struggle being, of course, against the British). Using at least five (5) specific examples from the Larkin text, discuss how the military government of Burma has been a sort of ‘reflection’ of the British colonial government that preceded it, in terms of its practices, policies, attitudes, etc. (This response should be about 2/3rds of a page to one page in length; 20 points possible.)
- Using the Larkin text and the handout “Finding George Orwell in Burma: Some Notes on the Exercise of State Power” as inspiration, discuss some of the ‘tools’ the post-colonial government of Burma has used to exercise power over the people of Burma. Relate the concepts in the handout to specific examples from the Larkin text, as well as class discussion (including the events of 2007 as depicted in the ‘Burma VJ’ viewing). Among others, be sure you include two primary ‘tools’ in your discussion: 1) the concept of fear; Aung San Suu Kyi chose to title her most important book Freedom from Fear. In what ways has the Burmese government utilized fear as a means of controlling the populace?; 2) A central theme of Orwell’s writings was the power of surveillance. Use the term panopticon, as mentioned in Larkin (p.79) and slide #’s 42-46 in the ‘History and Politics in Burma’ Powerpoint presentation, and check out the good entry on “panopticon” in wikipedia (not all wikipedia entries are adequate, but this one is – just type “panopticon” in the search bar and it should be one of the first hits).
Leaving Burma for a moment, in what ways do governments in general (including your own government), powerful corporations, the financial sector, etc. employ fear as a tool of manipulation and control? Include the concept of surveillance/’the panopticon’ in your response. What, if anything, can be done by ordinary folks to fight the power of fear as it is utilized in attempts to control us? (This response should be about 2/3rds of a page to one page in length; 20 points possible)
- I am curious to know what you found particularly interesting or striking about your readings of Larkin and Aung San Suu Kyi. Please mention three things from the readings that intrigued you, and what you found interesting about them. (This response should be about ½ page; 10 points possible)