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Matthew Venker

A headshot of Matthew Venker

Visiting Fellow

Matthew Venker is a cultural anthropologist studying the historical intersections of race, religion, and citizenship in Burma. His dissertation, Racial Categories, Religious Distinctions: Mixed Buddhists and the Burma Laws Act 1898-1947, interrogates how British colonial structures created new categories of legal personhood that divided the colony’s Buddhist population, which disenfranchised women in interracial marriages and antagonized members of Burma’s early nationalist movements.  This research combines insights from 14 months of participant-observation research on contestations of law and practices of belonging among various Chinese communities in Burma with archival research methods to adapt long-standing interests in the Burma’s citizenship rights regime to the radically changed political environment following the 2021 military coup. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2023. 

Matthew additionally holds an MA in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2017) and a BA in Asian Studies and Sociology/Anthropology from St. Olaf College (2012). He has training in East and Southeast Asian studies and speaks both Mandarin Chinese and Burmese. In addition to his time in Burma, Matthew lived in China for three years, mostly in a rural village along the Chinese-Burmese border from 2012-2014 where he taught English through Teach For China. His experiences along this porous border generated the interest and much of the initial insights his research is based on. Matthew is from St. Lous, Missouri.  

Additional Information



  • Postdoc
  • Visiting Scholar