The Rohingya peasantry of Myanmar: a limiting case of agrarian change. Disintegration by state violence, ethnic persecution and land grabs
October 28 @ 4:15 pm - 6:00 pm
Shapan Adnan (SOAS)
The bulk of the Rohingya peasantry of Myanmar has been expelled by state violence and ethnic persecution to other countries, particularly Bangladesh. The remaining fraction is confined to villages under pervasive restrictions on their movements and livelihoods. What kind of agrarian changes have these processes of exclusion and disintegration involved? The trajectories of differentiation have been foreclosed by forced displacement, leading to an ‘aggregate downward shift’ of all peasant classes to common destitution, irrespective of their initial differences. Rohingya lands have been grabbed by force or legal means, but much of it has been taken over by the military, state agencies and peasants of other ethnic groups. Rohingyas have only very restricted access to the labour market while being subject to occasional forced labour, constraining the emergence of a class of wage workers. The genocidal propensity of the ruling order of Myanmar has given primacy to the extermination or expulsion of the Rohingya peasantry through direct and structural violence, rather than simply de-linking them from production and subsistence.