Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Myanmar: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Myanmar

1st Edition

Edited by Adam Simpson, Nicholas Farrelly, Ian Holliday


452 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-12-08
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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:

• Fundamentals

• Spaces

• Cultures

• Living

• Governance

• International

• Challenges

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.

Table of Contents


  1. Explaining Myanmar in Flux and Transition, Nicholas Farrelly, Ian Holliday and Adam Simpson
  2. Part I: Fundamentals

  3. The State, Maitrii Aung-Thwin
  4. The Defence Services, Andrew Selth
  5. Democracy, John H Badgley and Ian Holliday
  6. Ethnicity and Identity, Violet Cho
  7. Part II: Spaces

  8. The Capital, Nicholas Farrelly
  9. Urban, Jayde Lin Roberts
  10. Rural, Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung
  11. Borderlands, Patrick Meehan and Mandy Sadan
  12. Cyber-Spaces, Gerard McCarthy
  13. Anomalous Spaces, Nicholas Farrelly
  14. Part III: Cultures

  15. Languages, David Bradley
  16. Religion, Charles Carstens
  17. Arts, Charlotte Galloway
  18. Public Discourse, Tom Kean
  19. Diasporas, Inga Grusß
  20. Youth, Jacqueline Menager
  21. Part IV: Living

  22. Political Economy, Lee Jones
  23. Agriculture, Ikuko Okamoto
  24. Banking and Finance, Thomas Förch
  25. FDI and Trade, Jared Bissinger
  26. Part V: Governance

  27. Executive, Ian Holliday and Su Mon Thazin Aung
  28. Legislature, Renaud Egreteau and Cindy Joelene
  29. Judiciary, Melissa Crouch
  30. Civil Society, Christina Fink and Adam Simpson
  31. Education, Marie Lall
  32. Health, Céline Coderey
  33. Part VI: International

  34. World, David Steinberg
  35. Regional, Jurgen Haacke
  36. Neighbourhood, Renaud Egreteau and Li Chenyang
  37. International Non-Governmental Organisations and Advocacy, John Dale and Samantha Samuel-Nakka
  38. International Law and Inter-Governmental Organisations, Tyler Giannini and Matthew Bugher
  39. International Assistance, Ian Holliday and Zaw Htet
  40. Part VII: Challenges

  41. Peace and Reconciliation, Kim Jollife
  42. Democratisation and Human Rights, Morten Pederson
  43. Gender, Khin Mar Mar Kyi
  44. Nation Building, Matthew Walton
  45. Class and Inequality, Elliott Prasse-Freeman and Phyo Win Latt
  46. Environment and Natural Resources, Adam Simpson
  47. Conclusion

  48. Myanmar Futures, Adam Simpson, Ian Holliday and Nicholas Farrelly

About the Editors

Adam Simpson is Director of the Centre for Peace and Security at the Hawke Research Institute and Senior Lecturer in International Studies at the University of South Australia. He is also Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University, Australia.

Nicholas Farrelly is an Associate Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University and Director of the ANU Myanmar Research Centre.

Ian Holliday is Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) at the University of Hong Kong.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General