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The uniqueness of downtown Yangon

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If one and only one city in Asia with its historic core largely intact were to be pointed out, it would to be Yangon. Yangon has thousands of historic properties that date before 1950 and it shows that the city is the home for the highest number of colonial period buildings in Southeast Asia. The uniqueness of downtown Yangon comes from its long history, which has left it with very distinct and diverse cultural and physical characteristics. Chinese, Muslim and Armenian traders were there long before the British arrived. Religious sites reflect this diversity, with a Synagogue, Buddhist Monasteries, Stupas and Temples; Mosques; Christian Churches; Hindu, Jain and Chinese Temples. Residents of different income levels and businesses of different types co-exist side by side. The absence of cultural, social and economic segregation makes downtown Yangon special and should be safeguarded. Yangon downtown has sufficient critical mass to attract a variety of investors with evidence of recent investment in rehabilitation of historic properties, with expected buy-in from local property owners and tenants, developers and construction companies. Although both authenticity and integrity have to some extent been compromised, it still reflects the UNESCO World Heritage Convention Operational Guidelines – ‘The respect due to all cultures requires that cultural heritage must be considered and judged primarily within the cultural contexts to which it belongs’

This talk is part of the Centre of South Asian Studies Seminars series.

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