In his well-known poem “Mending Wall” (1914), Robert Frost effectively depicted the act of walling:
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Since 2012, we have carried out twelve months of urban anthropological research in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city and its economic and cultural center. Until February 2016, however, we had not once visited the country’s capital, Naypyitaw, a planned city of immense size. It had not been a priority for our work, but we also had not been really keen on visiting: when the former military government began to relocate the capital in November 2005, away from cosmopolitan, multireligious, multiethnic Yangon, located at the mouth of the Andaman Sea, to a previously more or less vacant inland area, most commentators had been dismissive, bemused, or outraged.