Dec 2017 – Dec 2020
In the last four years, Myanmar has gone from a "no phone country" to a "smart phone country". A people most of whom never used any kind of phones or ever had an e-mail account now consists of accomplished users of Facebook, Viber and other applications. In this research project, we ask questions about how and for what purposes social media are used, about interaction between commanders, officers and troops, and about ethnic armed groups' interaction with civilians in areas under their control.
Between 2012 and 2016, the number of smart phone users in Myanmar grew from 1.7 million to 51 million. This happened in a transitional period from a military dictatorship to a more open, semi-democratic regime. The transition was accompanied by a partial peace process affecting some parts of the country, while communal violence and armed conflict increased dramatically in other areas.
This project studies the ways by which the use of social media either exacerbates conflict or helps to build peace, and emphasizes gender-based and other violence against civilians. The data gathered will be used to test and contribute to peace research theory about conflict termination. This will be studied by:
PRIO researchers will work together with researchers at the Myanmar Institute for Peace and Security (MIPS). MIPS is a non-governmental, non-partisan, independent research-based policy “think-and-do-tank” of academics, veterans of the peace process and security sectors, former exiles, prodemocracy activists, and international experts.
The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway's NORGLOBAL programme.
Julie Marie Hansen, Doctoral Researcher at PRIO, presented a paper at
the international conference ‘Social Media in Armed Conflict’ on 25-26 November
The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Myanmar Institute for Peace and Security (MIPS) invite submissions of abstracts for papers to be presented at the Social Media in Armed Conflict conference, to be held on 25-26 November 2020. The conference will focus on the broad theme of social media and digital information and communication technologies (ICTs) in armed conflict and peace processes, with a particular focus on Myanmar. The deadline for submitting an abstract is now 28 August, 2020 (extended, see submission details below).
On 2 August, Julie Marie Hansen gave a talk about sexual violence in armed conflict at KSAS, Humanity Institute in Myitkyina, Myanmar. Hansen introduced current theories on the causes and consequences of conflict-related sexual violence, and an overview of efforts to prevent and mitigate the impact of this type of violence.
With so much attention on the destructive role of Facebook in Myanmar, Doctoral Researcher Julie M. Hansen points out the constructive side of Facebook by bringing in examples of how women in Myanmar use of the social media platform. She writes:
spread of hate speech and misinformation online that incites real-life violence
are serious issues that deserve the media attention they have received, and the
tech community must prioritise finding a solution. Yet, for a fuller
understanding of the role of Facebook – which has become such a dominant tool in
Myanmar for information and communication that is almost synonymous with the
internet – we should also recognise the platform’s constructive side. And this becomes apparent when we look at how
the social media platform is used by women."
From early 2018, Julie Marie Hansen will start a three-year doctoral research project studying the gendered impacts of social media on armed conflict and peacebuilding in Myanmar.
Popular Article in Aftenposten
Journal Article in Journal of Contemporary Asia
Report - External Series
PRIO Policy Brief
Popular Article in PRIO Blogs