Marriage, modernity and “manner”: a Burmese-Buddhist woman’s agency in contemporary Yangon, Myanmar: An ethnographic portrait

2016-09 | thesis; master thesis. A publication of Göttingen

Jump to: Cite & Linked | Documents & Media | Details | Version history

Cite this publication

​Marriage, modernity and “manner”: a Burmese-Buddhist woman’s agency in contemporary Yangon, Myanmar: ​An ethnographic portrait​
Fennessy, M.​ (2016)
Göttingen​: Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. DOI: 

Documents & Media

GISCA 8 Fennessy 2016.pdf1.93 MBAdobe PDF


Published Version

Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 CC BY-NC 4.0


Fennessy, Matthew
Despite a resurgence of academic interest in Myanmar since the "opening" in 2011, little research exists on the growing urban middle-class, and even less on women. This paper is an ethnographic portrait of Chan Chan, a "modern", unmarried 33-year-old middle-class Burmese-Buddhist woman living in contemporary Yangon. I examine how she conceives of agency, and produces herself as an agent. I then analyse how she seeks to carve out agentive spaces for herself while performing "appropriate" femininity from typically subordinate positions. To do this, I examine her practice in pursuit of her projects: in relation to me, to her parents, in her desire to marry, in her imaginations of a husband, and in her pursuit of a better rebirth. Contextualising Chan Chan as a subject in broader societal discourses, this paper throws light on how woman like her do life in contemporary Myanmar, in a time when established discourses on women‘s "high-status" are being increasingly challenged.
Issue Date
Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
GISCA Occasional Paper 
This paper was originally submitted as a MA thesis to the Faculty of Social Sciences, Georg-August University, Göttingen, 2015. It was supervised by Prof. Dr. Andrea Lauser and Dr. Jovan Maud.



Social Media