On This Day

Revered Burma Research Society Founded 109 Years Ago

By Wei Yan Aung 29 March 2019

Today marks the 109th anniversary of the founding of the Burma Research Society, whose goals were to investigate and encourage art, science and literature in Myanmar and neighboring countries.

The society was launched on March 29, 1910, by foreign scholars such as Eales J.S. Furnivall, J.A. Stewart and C. Duroiselle and Myanmar scholars such as U Me Oung — who later became Home Affairs Minister — and lexicographer U Tun Nyein at a meeting chaired by the vice governor of Myanmar, Sir Herbert T. White.

The Journal of the Burma Research Society, an academic journal covering Myanmar studies published by the association between 1911 and 1980, was famous among international scholars and researchers.

The journal analyzed a wide range of topics on Myanmar culture and history and published ethnographic studies, translations and reviews of Myanmar literature, folklore, music, theology and fauna as well as archaeology and geography reports, historical essays and cultural and scientific studies of neighboring countries.

It was published twice a year in both Myanmar and English and most of the contributors were foreigners. Later on, Myanmar scholars including U Pe Maung Tin, U Me Oung, U Shwe Zan Aung and Sir U Khin wrote articles for the journal as well.

Over its nearly seven-decade run, the journal published 61 volumes and 144 issues.

At the 70th anniversary of the Burma Research Society at the Yangon Institute of Economics in 1980, Gen. Ne Win spoke against the group because it was established by the British. He said he could not accept associations in a socialist country that were formed by a minority.

The society was finally abolished on Dec. 29, 1980. Renowned Myanmar historian U Than Tun accused Gen. Ne Win of destroying it.

Despite ongoing calls to re-establish the society, there has been little progress.