Dr Nyi Nyi Kyaw2, Dr Vanessa Lamb3
2ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore, Singapore, 3University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
This paper introduces the concept of ‘banal statelessness’—defined as the statelessness and/or undocumentedness of one or more populations that becomes so banal and unnoticed that it is consequently off radar of academic and policy scholarship—which may result in misunderstanding the broader problem of statelessness in Myanmar and beyond. This banality of statelessness of non-Rohingya Muslims in and from Myanmar is comparatively constructed from the case of ‘hot statelessness’ of the Rohingya—defined as the statelessness and/or undocumentedness of one or more populations that becomes so hot and repeatedly highlighted that it is constantly on the radar of academic and policy research. What we present in this paper, as a complement to the growing work focused on the Rohingya, are the other forms and cases of ‘statelessness’ faced by non-Rohingya Muslims, who are ‘eligible’ for citizenship under the Myanmar Citizenship Law but have been unable to attain identity cards or be recognised as citizens of Myanmar. Through analysis of experiences of statelessness or undocumentedness of non-Rohingya Muslims, the paper combines doctrinal analysis and real-life, outside-court cases, different from usual doctrinal research and court cases employed in statelessness research.
Dr Nyi Nyi Kyaw is a Visiting Fellow with the Myanmar Studies Programme at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. Dr Vanessa Lamb is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne. They have common research interests in state-society relations and political geography in Southeast Asia including Myanmar.