Once one of the world’s greatest trading cities and known as “The Garden City of the East,” Yangon offers a rich cultural landscape and the largest collection of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century colonial architecture in Southeast Asia. Following Myanmar’s emergence from isolation, a rush of development now threatens the country’s former capital city. Thant Myint-U will discuss the progress made to preserve one of the most spectacular early twentieth-century urban landscapes in Asia, and the challenges to come.
Yangon Historic City Center is on the 2014 World Monuments Watch. To learn more, visit wmf.org/watch.
The Paul Mellon Lecture series is supported by The Paul Mellon Education Fund and the Paul Mellon Fund for Architectural Preservation in Great Britain.
Dr. Thant Myint-U
Visiting Senior Fellow, International Peace Academy
Thant Myint-U has lived and worked in New York for the past six years, first in the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and later in the Department of Political Affairs, where he was the head of policy planning. He has also worked for UN peacekeeping operations - in Cambodia in the early 1990s and then in the former Yugoslavia, including as the UN's chief spokesman in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war.
Thant Myint-U was educated at Harvard and Trinity College, Cambridge, recieving his PhD in history from Cambridge in 1996 and then staying on for three more years as a Fellow of Trinity College. He wrote his first book, The Making of Modern Burma, a history of the nineteenth century Burmese kingdom, during this time. Though he was born in New York (in 1966, when his grandfather, U Thant, was serving as the UN Secretary-General), he has lived on and off in Burma as well, including for a time in rebel-held areas near the border and briefly as a novice monk in a monastery just outside Rangoon.
Yangon Heritage Trust founder and chairman Dr. Thant Myint-U, shows a building in Yangon dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi which his organization helped save from demolition and replacement by new condominiums.