After decades of mismanagement and direct military rule, Myanmar’s contested transition to a more democratic government has rapidly shifted the outlook in this significant Southeast Asian nation. Since 2011, the removal of Western sanctions and new foreign investments have resulted in high rates of economic growth and an expanding middle class, albeit from a very low base. In a result unthinkable a few years earlier, former political prisoner and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), formed a national government in early 2016. However, despite significant political and economic reforms since the liberalisation process commenced, the transition to civilian rule remains constrained by the military’s 2008 Constitution, which guarantees that it operates unfettered by civilian oversight. As a result, although some ethnic conflicts have abated, others continue to fester and new conflicts have erupted. With a daunting task ahead the NLD government has made some progress in removing the vestiges of repressive military-era laws but many remain untouched and some of the practices of the new government provide unwelcome reminders of its authoritarian history.
This timely Handbook describes the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of this crucial period of transition in Myanmar. It presents explanations for contradictory trends, including those that defy some of the early narratives about the comprehensive transformation of Myanmar. The Handbook also considers the impact of major environmental, strategic, and demographic trends which help underscore that Myanmar’s development will be an ongoing task. In addition to introductory and concluding chapters by the editors, the body of the Handbook is divided into seven core sections:
Written by an international team of scholars, with a mix of world-leading established academics and talented emerging researchers, the Handbook provides a rigorous scholarly overview of Myanmar’s politics, economics, and society. As Myanmar opens to Western businesses and government agencies, this is an invaluable reference book that will provide a foundation for further research and offer the first port of call for scholars, students, and policy makers working on Myanmar and Asia.
Introduction 1. Explaining Myanmar in Flux and Transition, Nicholas Farrelly, Ian Holliday and Adam Simpson Part I: Fundamentals 2. The State, Maitrii Aung-Thwin 3. The Defence Services, Andrew Selth 4. Democracy, John H Badgley and Ian Holliday 5. Ethnicity and Identity, Violet Cho Part II: Spaces 6. The Capital, Nicholas Farrelly 7. Urban, Jayde Lin Roberts 8. Rural, Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung 9. Borderlands, Patrick Meehan and Mandy Sadan 10. Cyber-Spaces, Gerard McCarthy 11. Anomalous Spaces, Nicholas Farrelly Part III: Cultures 12. Languages, David Bradley 13. Religion, Charles Carstens 14. Arts, Charlotte Galloway 15. Public Discourse, Tom Kean 16. Diasporas, Inga Grusß 17. Youth, Jacqueline Menager Part IV: Living 18. Political Economy, Lee Jones 19. Agriculture, Ikuko Okamoto 20. Banking and Finance, Thomas Förch 21. FDI and Trade, Jared Bissinger Part V: Governance 22. Executive, Ian Holliday and Su Mon Thazin Aung 23. Legislature, Renaud Egreteau and Cindy Joelene 24. Judiciary, Melissa Crouch 25. Civil Society, Christina Fink and Adam Simpson 26. Education, Marie Lall 27. Health, Céline Coderey Part VI: International 28. World, David Steinberg 29. Regional, Jurgen Haacke 30. Neighbourhood, Renaud Egreteau and Li Chenyang 31. International Non-Governmental Organisations and Advocacy, John Dale and Samantha Samuel-Nakka 32. International Law and Inter-Governmental Organisations, Tyler Giannini and Matthew Bugher 33. International Assistance, Ian Holliday and Zaw Htet Part VII: Challenges 34. Peace and Reconciliation, Kim Jollife 35. Democratisation and Human Rights, Morten Pederson 36. Gender, Khin Mar Mar Kyi 37. Nation Building, Matthew Walton 38. Class and Inequality, Elliott Prasse-Freeman and Phyo Win Latt 39. Environment and Natural Resources, Adam Simpson Conclusion 40. Myanmar Futures, Adam Simpson, Ian Holliday and Nicholas Farrelly