Burma in Transition // 24 Photos

In November 2010, the Burmese people voted in the first general election in more than a generation. The international community, including the United Nations, expressed 'grave concern' over the nature of these elections. Western governments and election monitoring groups generally concluded that the elections were a charade.

Just days later, the junta of generals controlling Burma signed release papers for pro-democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi had spent 15 of the preceding 21 years imprisoned in her own home. Pundits and analysts jumped into action, asking whether this change was all an act to woo lucrative trade from the West, or whether a 'Burmese spring' was indeed under way.

The ruling military junta had created a state within a state, where members of the armed forces were given a quality of life unimaginable to most Burmese citizens. Corruption in Burma was rife and the economic potential of the country has been squandered by half a century of economic mismanagement. Productive industries had been largely owned and exploited by the military and its close 'cronies'.

While these big-picture events rolled on overhead, life on the streets of Burma's cities, towns and villages ground on.

The majority of Burmese live on the periphery of this two-tiered 'state', in an environment of severe poverty. Burma is one of the poorest countries in the world, a place where the conditions that have fueled history's revolutions underwrite daily life.

These are the streets of Burma, in the years leading up to and following the period of the country’s long transition to what it was hoped would be a more open, democratic society.