Dr. Jayde Lin Roberts2
2University of New South Wales, , Australia
Myanmar stands at an unenviable juncture, impatient to reach the orderly future of aspirational modernity while clinging to the past mythologized as national heroes and Burman dynasties. National reforms initiated in 2011 opened up the once hermit country to an onslaught of foreign aid, international best practice, and globalized discourses of universal value which project development as an economic calculation capable of overcoming local idiosyncrasies. Even for heritage conservation, a process that must negotiate the intersections of meaning, emotions, place attachment, and multiple histories, international consultants have presented technical procedures to designate quantifiable value. This research examines the heritage-making process of the Secretariat to foreground the elisions and negotiations required to save the former colonial command centre that came to be known as the site of General Aung San’s assassination. Aung San is hailed as the founding father of independent Burma who might have built an inclusive democratic nation had he not been slain at the age of 32. By tracing the political history of the colonial-built complex, analysing the discourse around its conservation and re-use, and tracking its ongoing development under the hands of a private company, this paper will analyse the political and economic forces that are trying to write a history of Yangon that will deliver on the promise of a prosperous cosmopolitan Myanmar despite the many contradictions in the Secretariat’s past.