Furnivall, John S.


Furnivall, John S.
   (1878-1960)
   British official and scholar who served in Burma as a member of the Indian Civil Service from 1902 to 1923 and founded the Burma Research Society in 1909 and the Burma Book Club in 1928. He is best known for describing the social and economic impact of colonial rule in terms of the plural society, a critique of laissez faire capitalism in a multiethnic society that after World War II was widely accepted as the definitive analysis of the Western imperial legacy in Southeast Asia and other parts of the Third World. He argued that although foreign rule and economic development had made Burma prosperous, this prosperity benefited foreign rather than indigenous communities: "[U]nder Burmese rule the Burman was a poor man in a poor country; now [1948] he is a poor man in a comparatively rich country." His books include An Introduction to the Political Economy of Burma (1931), which was long used as a textbook at the University of Rangoon (Yangon); The Fashioning of Leviathan: The Beginnings of British Rule in Burma (1939); and Colonial Policy and Practice: A Comparative Study of Burma and Netherlands India (1948), in which he most fully elaborated the plural society concept. From 1935 to 1941, he was a lecturer at Cambridge University, and also served as advisor to Prime Minister U Nu from 1948 to 1960.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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