Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Mikael Gravers

Associate professor emeritus


Mikael Gravers /2016   Date of birth:1946 Nationality: Danish. Languages:Danish (fluent); English (fluent); Pwo Karen (proficient, incl. script ) Position:Associate Professor Emeritus

Address:Anthropology & Ethnography, Moesgård, 8270 HøjbjergE-mail:etnomg@hum.au.dk; mikaelgravers@hotmail.com

Recent activities: 2015-2018: Participant in the Danish-Burmese research project Everyday Justice and Security in the Myanmar Transition funded by the Danish Research Council (FFU) in cooperation with DIIS & Yangon University.2013 & 2014. Fieldwork in Burma, Yangon, the Karen and Mon States. Interviews with key persons on the ongoing negotiations of a nation-wide ceasefire. Interviews with monks, former students, and journalists. Lecture at the re-opened Yangon University, Dept. of Anthropology.2012: February, visit to Burma, interviews in Rangoon and the Karen State with Karen: monks, politicians and NGO’s. Participant in a workshop: Can Political Reforms bring Peace to Myanmar? Organized by Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Myanmar Egress, Rangoon 12-14th. October.

2015: Fieldwork in Burma (March) and Thailand (November); Visit to DKBA HQ.

2010, 2011, 2012: Four months fieldwork in relation to Buddhism and Modernity project (se below) in Wat Phrabat Huai Tom, Lamphun province – a study of a lay community within a monastery; interviews with ten Burmese monks, who were among the leaders of the demonstrations in Burma in 2007. Interviews with officers from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, Burma (DKBA), the vice general secretary of KNU. Cooperation with DanChurch Aid on the border to Burma.

Professional Qualifications:1975: mag. art. in Social Anthropology and Ethnography, Aarhus University; PhD equivalent 1985.Employment1975-1985: Ekstern Lektor and Adjunktvikar (Lecturer); 1985 Associate Professor in the Dep. of Anthropology & Ethnography, Aarhus University.

Professional Activities: 1970-72 Fieldwork in Thailand affiliated to the Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies research station in Lampang. Continuation of fieldwork: 1976, 1989, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. Collection of 400 ethnographic items from Thailand for the Ethnographic Collections, Moesgård Museum and organizer of exhibitions in 1972, 1975, 2006; Thai Cultural Festivals in 2009, 2010.1987 organizer of the international conference Southeast Asia between Autocracy and Democracy (NASAS) in Pindstrup for the Nordic Association of Southeast Asian Studies and financially supported by NORFA; founding member of NASAS.1988, 1993: Archival research on Burma in the Oriental and India Office Collections, London.1994, 1997: Fieldwork in Vietnam, ethnic minorities central highland (impacts of the USA war, religious movements and conflict with the state. The project was halted by the authorities!).1994, 1997 Responsible for an agreement of mutual cooperation between Tây Nguyên University, Buôn Ma Thuôt, Vietnam and AU.

1999-2001: Member of the Council for Development Research (Rådet for U-landsforskning, Danida, Min. of Foreign Affairs). 1999-2001 Head of the anthropological team in the inter-disciplinary Thai-Danish research project Forest & People in Thailand (Danced, Strategic Environmental Research Program).2002, June, keynote speaker & facilitator at Danida environmental projects, Vietnam.  2004, May, keynote speaker & facilitator at Danida seminar on democracy, constitution and reconciliation in Burma for the Burmese opposition in exile, organized by the Danish Burma Committee & Danida – (in Chiang Mai, Thailand). 2011: Member of the advisory board of the Journal of Burma Studies2011: NIAS Associate & Fellow, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies.2011: Member of the Learned Society (Det Lærde Selskab), Aarhus University

.2009-2013: Participant in the research project Buddhism and Modernity: Global Dynamics of Transmission and Translation financed by the Danish Research Council for Humanities (FKK)Fellowships and grants1992, 1993 NIAS Guest Fellowship and Nordic Scholarship (London), the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS); 1994 grant from HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. Grants from the Research Fund, AU; Humanities Research Council 1970 and FKK 2005; the Carlsberg Fund 2003.Grant from Research Council of Humanities (FKK) 2009-2012).

Academic networking: Member of Centre for Asian Studies (CASAU), AU & Center for Sociological Studies CESAU), AU. In Thailand: Cooperation with scholars from Chiang Mai University: Faculty of Social Science (Dept. of Anthropology and Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development); The Social Research Institute; NGOs such as IMPECT and IKAP, Northern Thailand.Contacts: SOAS, Max Planck Institute, Göttingen. External examiner Chiang Mai University, Australian National University, and SOAS, London University.

Administrative experiences: Director of Studies 1985-86; 1990-1991, 2006-2007, 2010-11, 2012; Head of Dept 1987, 2007; 1989, 2010-2011; member of the study board, Faculty of Humanities. 1988-1993.

Media appearances in Danish mediaInterviews on Burma and Thailand 2006-2012: Tv2 Nyhederne, DR2 Morgen, DR2 Udland, Deadline, DR2 Tema-lørdag, TV2 News; Radioavisen nyhedstimen, P1 Morgen & Orientering P1 numerous times; Finland’s Radio News; DR P1 Synsfelt; Jyllandspostens Radio; Radio 24/7; articles in Kristeligt Dagblad, Weekend Avisen & Jyllandsposten; interviews with Jyllandsposten, Jyske Vestkysten, Politiken, Kristeligt Dagblad. Interview with Religionsrapporten, DR P1, as well as numerous interviews with other newspapers including international journals (The Irrawaddy, Far Eastern Economic Review) on Burma and Thailand.

External communication: Workshop for the Danish Refugee Organization on Burmese refugees in Denmark, January 2010 and in 2013).Folkeuniversitetet 2012-2013, lectures on Buddhism, Copenhagen and Aarhus.Consultant, Danish Television & Danida on the Christmas calendar for children (December 2013) funding Burmese schools.Public briefing for ca. 100 participants on the civil war in Burma at DIIS Copenhagen 23 September 20014.Talks in Rotary, Skagen 16 October 2014 and in Skive 4 November on Burma/MyanmarPeer reviewsManuscripts for NIAS Press; articles for Ethnic & Racial Studies, the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Australian Journal of Religion, Journal of religious History, Asian Studies Review, SOAS Bulletin, Asian Ethnicity; Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Aséanie, Ethnicities, Sojourn, among others; review of project proposals for Danida; PhD proposals and examinations, Chiang Mai University, SOAS and ANU. Book manuscripts Cornell University Press and Berghans.

Selected Publications in English:

1994 "The Karen Ethnic Minority in the Thai Nation. From Destructive Hill Tribe to Utopian Conservationists". Copenhagen Discussion Papers no. 23, pp. 21-46. Centre for East and Southeast Asian Studies, Copenhagen University.

1996a “Questioning Autocracy in Burma: Buddhism between Traditionalism and Modernism.” In David Westerlund (Ed.): Questioning the Secular State: The Worldwide Resurgence of Religion in Politics. Christopher Hurst & Co. London, pp. 297-322.

1996b “The Karen making of a Nation”. In Stein Tønnesson and H. Antlöv (eds): Asian Forms of the Nation. Curzon Press, London, pp. 237-269.

1999 Nationalism as Political Paranoia in Burma. An Essay on the Historical Practice of Power. Second edition, expanded and revised. Curzon Press, London, pp. 168.

2001a “God’s Army - The Karen Twins, the Invisible Army and the Media”. In NIASnytt - Nordic Newsletter of Asian Studies, The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen, no. 2, July 2001, pp.12-16.

2001b “Karen Notion of Environment - Space, Place and Power in a Political Landscape.” In Ebbe Poulsen, Flemming Skov, Sureeratna Lakanavichian, Sornprach Thanisawanyangkura, Henrik Borgtoft & Ole Høiris (eds.): Forest in Culture - Culture in Forest. Perspectives from Northern Thailand. Research Centre on Forest and People in Thailand: Bangkok. Pp.55-84. See further reports and papers on www.forsteandpeople.org.

2001c “Cosmology, Prophets, and Rebellion among the Buddhist Karen in Burma”. In Moussons no.4:3-31, (Social Science Research on Asia, Université de Provence, France.)

2004 “Ethnic Conflict, Reconciliation and Panglong Revisited.” In Seminar on Democracy, Constitution and National Reconciliation. Organized by the Danish Burma Committee 23-28 May, 2004. Chiang Mai, pp 7-13 & 133-145.

2007. (Ed.): Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma. Copenhagen, NIAS Press, pp. 300.2007a Introduction: “Ethnicity against the State – State against Ethnic Diversity”, Ibid. pp. 1-33.

2007b “Christian Conversion and Identity: The Formation of Karen Ethnic Identity in Burma.” Ibid. pp. 227-258.

2007c “Thaksin the Orphan and the King: Contested Moral Leadership as seen by Poor Buddhist Karen.” In Niasnytt Asia Insights, No. 3: 19-22.2008a “Moving from the Edge – Karen Strategies of Modernizing Tradition.” In Prasit Leepreecha, Kwanchewan Buadaeng and Don McCaskill (eds): Indigenous Peoples of the Mekong Region. Chiang Mai, Mekong Press, pp. 143-180.

2010. “The Monk in Command”. The Irrawaddy, vol.18, No.5, 2010 (pp.3).2010. Second, corrected edition of Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma. NIAS Press.

2012. ‘Waiting for a Righteous Ruler – Karen Royal Imaginary in Thailand and Burma.’ Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 43, 2, pp 340-363, June 2012.

2012. “Monks, Morality and Military. The Struggle for Moral Power in Burma – Buddhism’s uneasy relation with lay power.” Contemporary Buddhism vol. 13, 1. (A discussion of Buddhism’s political engagement in Burma during the Saffron Revolution 2007).

2013. "Spiritual Politics, Political Religion, and religious Freedom in Burma." The Review of Faith & International Affairs, Vol. 11, 2, pp.119-127.

2014. Burma/Myanmar - Where Now? (Asia Insights), NIAS Press, Copenhagen. Pp. 447. Co-edited with Flemming Ytzen. (author of 4 article, co-author of 4, plus text boxes )

(2014). “Religious Imaginary as an Alternative Social and Moral Order – Karen Buddhism across the Burma – Thai Border.”In A. Horstmann and Jin-heon Jung (eds.): Building Noah's Ark: Refugees, Migrants and Religious Communities. Palgrave McMillan, New York 2015).

(2014). “Disorder as Order: The Ethno-Nationalist Struggle of the Karen in Burma/Myanmar – a discussion of the dynamics of an ethnicized civil war and its historical roots.” Pp. 25, In Preparation for Journal of Burma Studies Vol. 19,1, 2015.

2014. Helene M. Kyed & M. Gravers. ”Non-State Armed Groups in the Myanamr Peace process. What are the future options?” Paper for a briefing at DIIS 23 September 2014, pp. 34.

(2015). “Anti-Muslim Buddhist Nationalism in Burma and Sri Lanka – Religious Violence and Globalized Imaginaries of Endangered Identities.”  Contemporary Buddhism, Vol. 16,1 pp. 22.

2014. “Building Moral Communities in an Uncertain World – a Karen Buddhist lay Community in Northern Thailand.” (Paper prepared for the Thai-Studies Conference, Sidney, April 2014), pp. 19.

(2015) “Karen and the Ceasefire Negotiations- Mistrust, Internal Segmentation and Clinging to Arms”. Chapter for Mandy Sadan (ed.): Burma Ceasefires. Copenhagen, NIAS Press (in preparation 2015).

{ A recent assessment of my work can be found in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies vol. 39,2, 2008 on Burma, as well as in numerous critical reviews of my book and edited volume}

 Selected publications in Danish:

2014: ”Burma of Sri Lanka: Truer buddhistisk nationalisme og vold demokratiet?” IP Monopolet, 21. udg. Oktober.

2014." Døde munke arbejder videre". Ole Høiris, ton Otto & Ane B. Rolsted (red.): de Dødes Liv. Århus  Universitetsforlag & Moesgård Museum.

 2014. s. 36-38.2012: “Socialt engageret buddhisme i Burma”. Religion – Tidsskrift for Gymnasiet, nr.1. 2012, s. 24-31.

2007 : “Edmund Leach: Political Systems of Highland Burma. A Study of Kachin Social Structure. 1954” I Ole Høiris: Antropologisk Mesterværker. Århus, Aarhus Universitetsforlag, s. 151-178.

2006 ”Buddhismen i Thailand – en national religion mellem tradition og globalisering”. I Religion – Tidsskrift for Gymnasiet, nr. 2:48-64.

2002. ”Viden og Naturbeskyttelse”. Miljøforskning, no. 52 Tema: ’Skov og Folk i Thailand’, s. 17-21.

2000 ”Sydøstasien. Oprindelige folks religion” I Mikael Rothstein (red.): Politikens håndbog i verdensreligioner, s. 338-347.

1999 ”Ethnicitet i Vietnamkrigens skygge – êdê-folket i Vietnams centrale højland.” I Ole Høiris et al. (red): menneskelivets mangfoldighed. Arkæologisk og antropologisk forskning på Moesgård, Aarhus Universitetsforlag, s. 401-406.

Since 1993, contributor of more than 60 articles on Burma, Thailand and anthropology to the Danish National Encyclopaedia, Gyldendal, Copenhagen.