The Newsletter 59 Spring 2012

Commercial Burmanization: two adverts by Burmah Oil Company in postcolonial Burma

Tharapi Than

Burma gained independence on 4 January 1948. Immediately after independence, Burmese media launched a campaign to ‘resurrect’ the country’s ‘lost’ culture. Bamakhit newspaper argued that the building of a new nation must be based upon customs, religion, and traditions that were indigenous.1 The new Burma needed to be built upon the foundations of Buddhism and cultures unique to the country. Indeed Burma not only had to recover its own customs, but also needed to distinguish, with the aim of discarding, cultures that were foreign to the country. In this article, I discuss how the (British-owned) Burmah Oil Company (BOC) used ‘authentically’ Burmese images in postcolonial Burma to promote their products.

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