Time to go home? The conflictual politics of diaspora return in the Burmese women’s movement
Author: Elisabeth Olivius
Journal: Asian Ethnicity
The initiation of political reforms and a peace process in Myanmar has fundamentally altered the conditions for Burmese diasporic politics, and diaspora groups that have mobilized in Myanmar’s neighbouring countries are beginning to return. This article explores how return to Myanmar is debated within the Burmese women’s movement, a significant and internationally renowned segment of the Burmese diaspora. Does return represent the fulfilment of diasporic dreams; a pragmatic choice in response to less than ideal circumstances; or a threat to the very identity and the feminist politics of the women’s movement? Contrasting these competing perspectives, the analysis offers insights into the ongoing negotiations and difficult choices involved in return, and reveals the process of return as highly conflictual and contentious. In particular, the analysis sheds light on the gendered dimensions of diaspora activism and return, demonstrating how opportunities for women's activism are challenged, debated and reshaped in relation to return.