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This analysis of the Burmese Rebellion of 1930-1931 and the role of its leader Saya San, pretender to the Burmese throne, emphasizes the importance of traditional elements in what is commonly called a nationalist uprising. In the 18 months before British firepower quelled it, the Rebellion spread to 12 of Burma's 40 districts. Western-educated Burmese elite were at first surprised and perhaps embarrassed by the primitive rural uprising, but eventually embraced the Rebellion. Saya San's aim was to expel the British; he had no real administrative plan. Comparison of the tactics of U Ottoma, a cosmopolitan revolutionary, with the less modern but more successful efforts of Saya San suggests that the rural Burmese of 1930 were more responsive to mythological symbols than to political reform programs. The Rebellion did provide a major stimulus to the growth of modern nationalism. To the urban elite, it vividly demonstrated the mass appeal of traditional values, while also proving that a peasant uprising could achieve only temporary success unless it had specific and negotiable aims, requiring modern political skills. 27 pp. Ref.

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