Humanizing the Rohingya Beyond Victimization

A Portrait


  • Grisel d’Elena Florida International University



Rohingya, Myanmar, Buddhism


This article is based on interviews with U Ashin Wirathu and an analysis of Buddhist nationalist discourses of violence against religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar. I explore a fundamental issue that continues to plague the Rohingya—the emphasis on the Rohingya as victims of nationalist systemic Buddhist violence. This chapter sets out to bring Rohingya agency to the forefront. Rohingyas are characterized as immutably foreign and Muslim—that is, they are labeled with an identity convenient to state-sangha oppression. Through interviews with relocated Rohingya society members and the mentoring of Dr. Jerryson, this work is dedicated to the rehumanization and devictimization of the Rohingya.

Author Biography

Grisel d’Elena, Florida International University

Grisel d’Elena is an Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, Florida. She is also an Academic Advisor for the Honors College and PhD student at the School of International and Public Affairs at FIU. Her research interests are in Buddhist Violence, Women and Religion, The Rohingya, and International Response to Conflict.  She serves on the board of UN Women USA, Miami, leading the Young Professionals Committee. Grisel also volunteers as a mentor for the national bullying and suicide prevention nonprofit, National Voices for Equality, Education, and Enlightenment (NVEEE).


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How to Cite

d’Elena, G. (2021). Humanizing the Rohingya Beyond Victimization: A Portrait. Buddhist Studies Review, 38(1), 79–92.