Dr Lewis of Bristol University is a specialist in twentieth century global and transnational history particularly in South and South East Asia. She gave a very relevant and topical talk about the historical roots of protest in Myanmar which she traced back to the late nineteenth century and British Colonialism. She used little seen photographs of Rangoon University and its students to describe the culture of the 1920’s-1940’s and some of those students who became leaders of the Nationalist movement including Aung San Suu Kyi’s father Aung San who was Myanmar’s first democratic leader and founder of the Burmese Army. The lively atmosphere at Rangoon University in the interwar period with its mixture of female and male students was fascinating. The talk linked these nationalist protests by students to the much more recent events in which Aung San Suu Kyi emerged as a national icon. It also stressed the part played by thousands of ordinary people (many in education) in these protests and what they had suffered as a result.
The audience of thirty asked many questions at the end of the talk on a topic we all felt was highly relevant not only because of the protests in Myanmar but also because of the role of the young in protests in our own country.