III-1. “Collecting and Analyzing Materials Published by Local Communities and Ethnic Minorities in Myanmar: Considering Grassroots Pluralism” (R2-3 FY2020-2021)

  • Project Leader : Wada Michihiro (Kanda University of International Studies, Department of Asian Languages, Faculty of Foreign Languages)
  • Collaborators : Patrick McCormick (Independent Researcher)
  • : Noemi-Tiina Dupertuis (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies)
  • : Kikuchi Taihei (Osaka University, Graduate School of Language and Culture)
  • : Ono Mikiko (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies)

Outline of Research

What materials are published by local communities and ethnic minorities in Myanmar? During FY 2020, this project, with the help of people in Myanmar, collected about 600 publications in both the official language, Burmese and minority languages, including Shan, Shanni, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Kayan, Pa-O, Wa and Mon. These materials were sent to Japan to become part of the collection of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies Library at Kyoto University. In FY 2021, we will clarify the trends and conditions of local publications through an analysis of the authors, distribution channels, and publication contents.


The purpose of this research is to collect materials published by local communities and ethnic minorities in Myanmar in order to analyze publishing trends and conditions. Collection of these materials will contribute to research on local histories, ethnicities, religions, and languages in the western part of Mainland Southeast Asia. No library in Japan or Myanmar has comprehensively collected materials published by local communities and in various minority languages. When prepublication censorship was abolished in 2012, Myanmar began experiencing a publication boom (this has since come to an abrupt halt due to the recent political unrest in February 2021). It is meaningful in the long run to collect and keep the results of this boom for both academia and Myanmar society.

Nearly 600 publications were collected in FY 2020. Publications in minority languages are critical in revealing how ethnic languages are actually used as written languages and for considering the creation of imagined communities based on the specific languages used in publications. It is necessary to clarify how, when, where, and by whom the books, journals, and other materials in various minority languages are written, published, sold, distributed, bought, and read. The research project therefore not only collects publications in various languages, but also provides broader insights into their making and distribution processes.

Books written in Shan language (novels, poetry and essays etc.)

Books, nearly 600 items, written in nine minority languages that were collected in Myanmar during FY 2020.