Power, Postcolonialism, and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender, and Class

By Geeta Chowdhry; Sheila Nair | Go to book overview

11

HUMAN RIGHTS AND POSTCOLONIALITY

Representing Burma

Sheila Nair

In 1991 Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese dissident, won the Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against Burma's military authoritarian government, and her persistent advocacy and defense of human rights and democracy in her homeland. At the time she was in the third year of house arrest under the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in Burma, and had become the key figure leading a movement for democracy and human rights in that country. 1 The figure of Suu Kyi, female nationalist icon and symbol of resistance to the Burmese military, emerges forcefully in accounts of human rights and democratization in Burma. The Nobel Prize further underscored her visibility and presence in the movement. Michael Aris, Suu Kyi's late husband, wrote after learning of her award,

Many will now for the first time learn of her courageous leadership of the non-violent struggle for restoration of human rights in her country. I believe her role will come to serve as an inspiration to a great number of people in the world today.

(Suu Kyi 1991: xxix-xxx)

Even as she emerges as the main “voice” of Burmese resistance and chief human rights advocate, the struggle for democracy in Burma remains a complex and complicated story involving a range of participants and multiple contestations. The Burma human rights and democracy campaign is simultaneously national and global, and a testament to the contested and unsettled terms of governance in a postcolonial state.

Like other human rights cases, Burma's location in the contemporary transnational and liberal discourse may be attributed to the investigation, documentation, and analyses of the government's human rights record by Western governments, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations. In the United Nations, for example, human rights violations in Burma have been the subject of some debate and censure. A recent UN

-254-

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Power, Postcolonialism, and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender, and Class
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Postcolonial Criticism 33
  • 3 - Situating Race in International Relations 56
  • 4 - Beyond Hegemonic State(Ment)S of Nature 82
  • 5 - Cultural Chauvinism and the Liberal International Order 115
  • 6 - “sexing” Globalization in International Relations: 142
  • 7 - In One Innings 170
  • 8 - The “new Cold War” 184
  • 9 - A Story to Be Told 209
  • 10 - Postcolonial Interrogations of Child Labor 225
  • 11 - Human Rights and Postcoloniality 254
  • Bibliography 285
  • Index 312
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