Liminal spaces: a critical geography of working children in Mandalay Railway Station

Dr Zin Mar LAtt, Dr Kyu Kyu Than, Daw Khin Nyein Chan

Reconfigurations of the urban built environment enable the emergence and sustaining of liminal spaces where the governance of labour and social relations may be both ambiguous and unequal.  Such inequalities may be further engendered by day and night, not only in the form of the ‘night economy’ (Hobbs 2000) but in the politics of tolerance made possible in the marginality enabled by shadows.

Since 1988, increasing rates of urbanization in Myanmar, resulting from a rapidly changing economy, have introduced new challenges to the governance of urban spaces. This research uses photo-ethnography to study the social geography of street and working children based around Mandalay Railway station, showing how the physical space and infrastructure such as roads and buildings effect jurisdictional inequality in light and shadow, and the challenges this poses to governance of public spaces, particularly in relation to vulnerable and marginalized groups.


Zin Mar Latt is Professor, Department of Anthropology, Yadanabon University. She has undertaken research on the precarity of ethnic identity, on environmental changes and resilience, and most recently, as Research Fellow at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University, a study of the social meaning of votive networks.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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