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, and the legacies of decades of ethno-religious conflict. The limits of reforms have been demonstrated most tragically with recent atrocities and escalating military campaigns in Rakhine and Kachin States.
This panel discussion brings together authors from the recent Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Myanmar (ed. Simpson, Holliday and Farrelly) to describe the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of this crucial period of transition in Myanmar and launch this important new publication. Discussant comments will also be provided by Professor Michael Wesley, Dean of The Australian National Unversity's College of Asia and the Pacific.
Wine and cheese will follow the event.