The urban landscapes of Yangon and Mandalay in Burma (Myanmar) exhibit a rich cultural layering and complex blending of urban forms and architectural styles. But while both cities today are shaped by contemporary economic and political realities, they also clearly reflect their historical origins—Yangon as the British colonial capital and Mandalay as the last seat of the monarchy. Burma’s ancient religious monuments, monarchical and colonial heritage on the one hand, and new religious edifices, international standard hotels, commercial enterprises, new public buildings and satellite towns on the other hand, represent the two poles of the dialectic of tradition and modernity. The landscapes, as symbolic representations, have been appropriated by the authoritarian military regime, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) for nation building purposes. But the urban landscapes are also contested and appropriated in symbolic ways and invested with meanings as sites of resistance and struggle by those in opposition, and are thus contested sites where the power relations of domination and resistance intersect. The paper illustrates these themes with examples drawn from Yangon and Mandalay.
Field of Research
120599 Urban and Regional Planning not elsewhere classified