Becoming the outskirts: Peripheral Urbanisation in Mandalay, Myanmar
21st November 2022
Officials in Myanmar frequently frame a city’s outskirts as either an untapped opportunity or a problem that must be solved. However, this reflects an overly simplified understanding of both the outskirts and their residents. Based on 11 months of fieldwork in a working-class neighbourhood on Mandalay’s outskirts in 2018-2019, this research conceptualises the outskirts as a multifaceted and socially constructed space that is at the forefront of urban change. It explores the history of urban planning, as well as the challenges residents face and their practices of acquiring, maintaining, and building on land in Mandalay’s outskirts, arguing that land ownership and residence location serve as the foundation of urban citizenship in Myanmar. By engaging with the ongoing discussion on the narrative of transition in Myanmar, this research argues that the country’s urban transformation was complicated by its political transition, resulting in displacement, differentiation, and dissatisfaction among residents of Mandalay’s outskirts.