Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeOpinionCzechia establishes new Myanmar Studies Center

Czechia establishes new Myanmar Studies Center

Guest contributor

Kristina Kironska 

The Myanmar Studies Center was opened at the Palacky University Olomouc (MSC@UP) on May 15. It is one of a kind in Czechia, as well as in Central Europe, where generally little scholarly attention is given to Myanmar or the Southeast Asia region. Driven by a commitment to fill this academic void, this new center is dedicated to fostering interdisciplinary research and education centered on Myanmar.

Czechia is well positioned for such a center, given the country’s historical support for the Myanmar democracy movement. This is exemplified by the special relationship between former Czech President Vaclav Havel and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as Czechia’s provision of asylum for Myanmar dissidents.

Furthermore, Czechia boasts a vibrant civil society engaged in diverse Myanmar-related activities such as the Burma Center Prague or Integria.

The establishment of the center has been made possible through support from the E.U. research and innovation program: The EU in the Volatile Indo-Pacific region (EUVIP). One of EUVIP’s endeavors was to work towards the establishment of a center that would foster a broader appreciation for Myanmar’s rich cultural heritage, societal dynamics, and political landscape, both within the Czechia and beyond.

The center will be led by me. I’m an assistant professor at Palacky University Olomouc and I lived in Myanmar from 2015-16. Since then, I have remained dedicated to researching Myanmar-related topics concerning mostly international relations and human rights (see for example the Myanmar Coup Tracker). I’m also an active member of the European Myanmar Solidarity Network, engaging in advocacy efforts at both the E.U. and national levels.

The primary objective of the center is to enhance the integration of Myanmar into the curriculum of the Department of Asian Studies. Presently, students can study five Asian languages and explore political, anthropological, and international relations topics related to Asia. The approach involves initially incorporating Myanmar-related content significantly into existing courses (such as Human Rights in Asia or Politics in the Indo-Pacific, with the eventual goal of introducing standalone Myanmar courses such as Myanmar: Past and Present).

The center will also be involved in organizing events, such as public lectures, conferences, and summer schools on Myanmar-related topics. Some of the upcoming activities include the Myanmar-themed summer school in June 2024 (“Navigating Geostrategic Dynamics in the Indo-Pacific: Focus on Southeast Asia and Myanmar“) for PhD and advanced Master’s students, and the Interdisciplinary Myanmar Conference 2024 (with the conference theme “Myanmar’s International Role: More Than a Buffer State”), bringing distinguished experts from all over the world to Olomouc at the end of June 2024.

Additionally, the center will take part in the Erasmus+ program, providing internships for students from Myanmar (following the successful reception of an Erasmus+ grant). The MSC@UP website (in the process of preparation) will showcase blog posts by these interns, as well as by participants of the summer schools or other activities organized by the center, effectively communicating its activities to the wider public.


Feel the passion for press freedom ignite within you.

Join us as a valued contributor to our vibrant community, where your voice harmonizes with the symphony of truth. Together, we'll amplify the power of free journalism.

Lost Password?