Introduction by Maaike Matelski
In June 2015 the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology organized a seminar on account of the increasing number of Rohingya refugees in South East Asia. Since 2016 and in particular since August 2017 the violence against Rohingya in Myanmar has intensified. More and more horrific stories about murder and torture have come out, and more than 600.000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh. As the most prominent representative of the Myanmar government, Aung San Suu Kyi receives fierce criticism, because she does not speak out against these criminal acts. In the meantime the Myanmar government even has denied access to their country to the UN Special Rapporteur. A lasting solution seems further away than ever. Less known, but at least as worrying, is that a large part of the people of Myanmar seems to support its government’s policy. Anthropologist Justine Chambers, affiliated to the Australian National University, wrote an extensive and personal post on The Familiar Strange, about the struggle of many researchers having to deal with the lack of sympathy for the Rohingya people in Myanmar, and her role as anthropologist in such circumstances. Read her article here.