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Romancing Human RightsGender, Intimacy, and Power between Burma and the West$
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Tamara C. Ho

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824839253

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824839253.001.0001

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“Truth has a witness”

“Truth has a witness”

Postcolonial Adjudication, Interracial Passing, and Human Rights

(p.52) 3 “Truth has a witness”
Romancing Human Rights

Tamara C. Ho

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines postcolonial adjudication by white women of the global North and its implications for the discursive circumscription of Burmese women. It discusses the politics of white women “going native” and visually “passing as Burmese” in the late twentieth century through an analysis of two human rights exposés of the 1990s: Inge Sargent's 1994 autobiography Twilight over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess and John Boorman's 1995 film Beyond Rangoon. The chapter shows that Euro-American women, motivated by a human rights imperative to “tell the world the story” of Burma, occupy a privileged representational role and testify to militarized atrocities. In highlighting pedagogical romances between Burmese masculinity and white femininity, it reveals an indirect version of transnational racialized passing that operates through contradictory dynamics of identification, citizenship, and power in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It argues that Burmese women disproportionately bear the brunt of militarized violence that uses rape as a weapon of war and ethnic cleansing.

Keywords:   adjudication, white women, Burmese women, human rights, Inge Sargent, Twilight over Burma, John Boorman, Beyond Rangoon, Burma, racialized passing

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