Legitimising the union of Myanmar through primary school textbooks

Nicholas Cheesman

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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Formal state schooling has since its inception been directed towards the building of national identity. As state discourses are commonly and readily transmitted through school textbooks, they may be uncovered by careful examination. This study looked at five primary school Burmese language readers used in Myanmar (Burma) to reveal how they function to project a particular version of national identity. Its proposition is that the state in Myanmar aims to legitimise itself through schooling—and specifically, the primary school textbooks—by configuring itself as an integral part of a greater entity, ‘the Union’. It finds that according to the textbooks’ normative model, the ideal citizen has distinct ethnic, religious and gender characteristics. It explores the play between constructs of state, national and individual identity in the textbooks through different techniques for content and text analysis. It is an original contribution to the body of work imparting how formal mass education is designed to buttress national institutions and concepts. Its conclusions, while pertaining explicitly to Myanmar, have relevance to state schooling everywhere.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2002


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