Paper: Critical reflections on attempts to decolonise practice in Rakhine State Myanmar

Paper details

Paper authors Anthony Ware
In panel on Decolonising aid? Issues and directions
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


This paper will provide critical reflections on two case studies, of attempts to decolonise practice in two major projects in Rakhine State, Myanmar, amongst Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine villages. The first case studies is an asset-based community development programme working with pairs of Rohingya Muslim and Rakhine Buddhist communities, facilitating collaborative planning and implementation by the two villages of small, locally-led development or peace strengthening projects of mutual benefit to both communities. Peace strengthening is a recent addition, for the latest cohort, but the overall bottom-up development programme has been running for a decade, and has conducted at least 3-years of programming into over 70 villages, with some impressive results documented. The authors have partnered with the local NGO implementing this programme since its inception, with co-design at all stages, locally leadership and planning, and foreigners almost never visiting any of the villages. As academics, we have contribute strategic advice, training, grant writing and some management to the programme, on a request basis. The second case study is an attempt to generate participatory conflict analysis from across that state, all townships and demographics, to inform development-humanitarian-peacebuilding programme planning. This relied on co-design of participatory development tool-based focus group data collection, and data collection by those local research facilitators who participated in the co-design, , over multiple days per villages. This paper will analyse the processes, practices and outcomes of both attempts to decolonise practice, to provide critical reflections on the effectiveness, challenges and issues of these case studies, as well as of the potential, issues and critiques of decolonisation in practice.



Anthony Ware