Recent contributions to Myanmar studies suggested by the MyERN team

Articles and Book Chapters

Authoritarian Resilience through Top-Down Transformation: Making Sense of Myanmar's Incomplete Transition

Starting from the imperfect nature of Myanmar's democracy, this paper aims to answer two questions. First, can Myanmar's transition be defined as a case of democratization, or is it, rather, a case of authoritarian resilience? To state this differently: is the progress enjoyed by Myanmar's polity the outcome of an ongoing process that is supposed to lead to a fully fledged democracy, or, rather, an attempt to enshrine elements of authoritarian governance under a democratic guise? Second, if the balance leans towards the latter instead of the former, how did authoritarian resilience work in Myanmar? The transition is analysed from a long-term perspective, moving from the 1988 pro-democracy uprising up to the most recent events. Data were collected from available published sources and from three fieldworks conducted by the authors in Myanmar. The paper concludes that Myanmar's transition is better understood as a case of authoritarian resilience than as democratization and highlights three core traits of Myanmar's authoritarian resilience: first, the very top-down nature of the political transformation; second, the incumbents’ ability to set the pace of political reform through the use of repression and political engineering; and third, the divide-and-rule strategy used as a means to keep contestations separated and local.
Italian Political Science Review
Articles and Book Chapters


in H-J. Giessmann, R. Mac Ginty (eds), The Elgar Companion to Post-Conflict Transition pp. 275-293
What are the main drivers of political transition and regime change? And to what extent do these apparently seismic political changes result in real change? These questions are the focus of this comparative study written by a mix of scholars and practitioners. This state-of-the-art volume identifies patterns in political transitions, but is largely unconvinced that these transitions bring about real change to the underlying structures of society. Patriarchy, land tenure, and economic systems often remain immune to change, despite the headlines.
Cheltenham: Edward Elgar
Articles and Book Chapters

Crossing the river by feeling the gold: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Financial Support to the Belt and Road Initiative

in China & World Economy, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 23-45
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is, above all, a connectivity project. As connectivity requires financial support, in the past few years China has undertaken several institution-building activities at the national and international level, mainly in the financial and economic sector, showing a new propensity to influence global economic governance. In particular, the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has drawn attention worldwide. How does this institution- building process connect with BRI? Are these institutions just a vehicle for exporting China’s capital and overcapacity, or do they signal a potential wider challenge to the post-World War II liberal international order? By analyzing the first loans approved by the bank, the present paper argues that far from representing a China-led challenge to the Western-led liberal order, the AIIB, while promoting Chinese commercial and geopolitical interests, shows the resilience of the global financial regime created by the West.