The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Yangon Stories: Framing Living Heritage as Tool to Prevent Spatial violence

Yangon stories

24 August 2022

Yangon Stories aims to frame the potentials of a living heritage approach to informal settlements to challenge existing dynamics of spatial violence in Yangon in order to mobilize more inclusive urban planning practices. This project brings a unique perspective to the intersections of heritage, violence and dignity by linking spatial violence trajectories with situated storytelling about heritage-making. We view forms of contestation and agency of informal dwellers facing evictions and resettlement as counter practices of living heritage.

In this project we aim to:

  • Foster multi-disciplinary and collaborative research designed to transform understanding of the causes, impacts and legacies of spatial violence;
  • Develop relevant collections of archival, oral, ethnographic and other sources, from policymakers, women’s groups, communities, and local leaders;
  • Develop theoretical frameworks and methodological innovations to contribute substantive insights into heritage-making practices as forms of countering violence, informing broader understandings of community-led conflict prevention strategies.

Yangon Stories is a collaborative project between Development Planning Unit: Dr. Catalina Ortiz - PI; Dr. Giovanna AstolfoProf. Camillo Boano; Dr. Elizabeth Rhoads; and local researchers and partner organisations.

Funding: The project is funded by British Academy through its Heritage, Dignity and Violence programme

Main activities

Roundtable: Living heritage and urban informalities: perspectives from Southeast Asian cities - 06 December 2021

Report launch – March 9 2021

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNC-93VqxxI



Kickstart Workshop – February 3-7, 2020


DPU Fellowships 2020

Chauncie Bigler. Framing the Living Heritage Approach for the Periphery:  Constructing Place, Space, and Community in Yangon,  Myanmar

Naiara Yumiko Murakami Dutra da Costa. Building epistemic designs: decolonial cartography as a tool to subvert forced evictions infrastructure

DPU Fellowships 2021

Roisin McNamara,  Spatial violence through modes of dispossession: A study of vulnerability and climate change adaptation in Yangon 

DPU Fellowships 2022

Maki Saso, Contributions of squatter settlements amid expanding enclave urbanism in Hlaing Thayar, Yangon
Sawa Shiroma, Urban Transformation and Spatial Violence through Capital Accumulation in Yangon
Higa Akemi, Living Heritage as a narrative shift for liberation: Civic disobedience practices to oppose spatial violence in Yangon 

WebinarStories of Spatial Violence in Asian Cities - Jun 10, 2022

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAN9b7IZmuo


Yangon Stories Website - https://www.yangonstories.com/ 

(Yangon Stories, 2022). Stories of Displacement from Yangon

Kolovou Kouri, M. (2022). Locating living heritage in Yangon’s informal housing practices. DPU Blog

Roberts, J.L. & E. Rhoads. (2021). Myanmar’s hidden-in-plain-sight social infrastructure: Nalehmu through multiple ruptures. Critical Asian Studies

Kolovou Kouri, M. & Sakuma, S. (2021). Community-led housing in Yangon: An assessment of the Mae Myit Thar project

Kolovou Kouri, M., Sakuma, S., Oritz, C., Astolfo, G & Rhoads, E. (2021). Trajectories of spatial violence in Southeast Asian cities. DPU Working Paper Series (207), London. ISSN: 1474-3280

Rhoads, E., Sakuma, S., Ortiz, C. (2021). Violations of the Right to Adequate Housing after the Coup. Policy Paper. 

Rhoads, E. (2020). Property, Citizenship, and Invisible Dispossession in Myanmar's Urban Frontier. Geopolitics.

Astolfo, G. & Boano, C. (2020). ‘Unintended Cities’ and Inoperative Violence. Housing Resistance in Yangon. Planning Theory & Practice. 

Rhoads, E. (2020). ‘Informal (Justice) Brokers: Buying, Selling, and Disputing Property in Yangon'. in Kyed, H.M. (ed.),  Everyday Justice in Myanmar: Informal Resolutions and State Evasion in a Time of Contested Transition. NIAS Studies in Asian Topics; No. 71. NIAS Press. pp.283-313.

Ortiz, C., & Lipietz, B. (eds.). (2020). Grounded Learning: people-centred approaches to housing in Yangon and Yogyakarta. London: University College London. 


On Yangon urbanism, informal settlements, heritage, housing, spatial violence and history

Anonymous. (2021). An Initial Report on Forced Evictions of Squatters in Hlaing Tharyar during the Coup. 

Asian Development Bank, ADB. (2019). Financing Affordable Housing in Yangon.

Boutry, M. (2017). Migrants Seeking out and Living with Floods: A Case Study of Mingalar Kwet Thet Settlement, Yangon, Myanmar. in: C. Middleton, R. Elmhirst & S. Chantavanich (eds.), Living with floods in a mobile Southeast Asia. A political ecology of vulnerability, migration and environmental change. pp. 42–62. New York: Routledge.

Campbell, S. (2019), Of Squatting amid Capitalism on Yangon’s Industrial Periphery. Anthropology Today 35, (6), pp. 7–10.