Saving Old Rangoon - Thant Myint-U


Urban conservation, cosmopolitan histories, and the politics of real estate in 21st-century Myanmar

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Rangoon boasts one of the last intact early 20th-century urban landscapes in Asia, with hundreds of colonial-era buildings as well as an unparalleled collection of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish religious sites. But this priceless heritage is now in imminent threat of destruction: at risk is not only Rangoon's built heritage but possibly also its long traditions of multi-faith and multi-cultural co-existence. Dr. Thant Myint-U will discuss Rangoon's heritage and the challenges of urban conservation with architect Bill Greaves, director of the Vann Molyvann Project.

Dr. Thant Myint-U is the founder and chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust ( He is also a Special Advisor to the Myanmar Peace Centre (the secretariat of the peace negotiations currently underway) and a member of the Myanmar president's National Economic and Social Advisory Council. He was educated at Harvard and Cambridge Universities and taught history for several years as a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He has served as well on three United Nations peacekeeping operations, in Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia, and worked for seven years at the UN Secretariat in New York, including as the Chief of Policy Planning in the Department of Political Affairs. He is the author of three books, including most recently The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma and Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia.

Bill Greaves is an architect and the director of the Vann Molyvann Project. As project director he worked extensively in Phnom Penh with Cambodian and international architects and students to document the work of Cambodia’s most important architect of the 1960’s. Now based in New York and Toronto, he continues to research and speak on issues related to architectural heritage in Cambodia and to advocate for the preservation of urban landscapes in Southeast Asia as the region develops. Mr. Greaves has a particular interest Rangoon and Phnom Penh as the last two major Southeast Asian cities to have avoided large scale, unplanned and destructive development.

Presented with Open Society Foundations

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Download related Wall Street Journal article: "Saving Old Rangoon" (PDF)

Event Details

Wed 01 May 2013
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
725 Park Avenue (at East 70th Street), New York, NY
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$7 members; $9 students/seniors; $11 nonmembers
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