Activist Becomings (Film Screening and Presentation)

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Andreas Hartmann—My Buddha is Punk (Film)

Kyaw Kyaw, a 25-year-old Burmese punk, pursues the dream of seeing the punk scene take off in Myanmar. The former military dictatorship carried out a few democratic reforms, but he remains skeptical: In his opinion, the country hasn’t changed yet. Along with the members of his punk band, he tries to raise the awareness of his people about the persistent violation of human rights. By way of his music and the demonstrations in the streets, he criticizes the ongoing civil war and the persecutions of ethnic minorities. He travels across the country to promote his own philosophy among the young generations: A symbiosis of Buddhism and punk that rejects religious dictates and political doctrine. (facebook)

Carolin Hirsch—Activist Becomings

My research project „Activist Becomings – From critical songs to feeding hands“ is focused on how activism is evolving and manifesting on the individual and collective level of the actors and how the areas of political activism and food activism are linked through the actions of the members of the Food Not Bombs group in the urban setting of Yangon. The project has three central research dimensions: activist life worlds, learning with complementary forms of knowledge and exploring the political dimensions of infrastructure. The attention lies on the sociocultural dynamics that occur when activists shape new socialities and political infrastructures. This project is part of a larger research initiative entitled „Activist Becomings“ that is currently in the planning stage and will take place at the University of Konstanz.

My focus will be on the Yangon-Based Food Not Bombs (FNB) group, a group that bridges the areas of food activism and political activism. My interest lies in understanding how FNB members become activists and how their activism is integrated into their everyday life. Furthermore, my interest lies in understanding how their collective efforts are influencing their social environment and the political landscape in Yangon and beyond. According to FNB, their aims are to protest against war and poverty through sharing free vegetarian food with people in need. Through offering food every Monday evening to people in need FNB is trying to shape the social reality of this people and draw the attention to the problems of poverty, low wages and rising rents. The organization is dedicated to nonviolent social change. FNB Myanmar is run by the members of the punk rock band „Rebel Riot“ and was founded in 2013, two years before the first free elections in 2015 after five decades of military dictatorship. The ongoing transformation in the political sphere outside of and within governmental institutions has allowed for a growing awareness of what activistic engagement by citizens can achieve, since activism does not have to be carried out from exile any more.

In this presentation I will sketch a first outline of my research project which I intend to carry out in the coming years.

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