Democratic backsliding disrupted: The role of digitalized resistance in Myanmar

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific


More than one year since its coup, the Myanmar military has neither established effective control of the territory nor crushed online dissent. What factors have enabled the resistance forces to deny the consolidation of military rule? We address this question by building a novel theoretical framework that incorporates the role of long-standing digitalized pro-democracy activism and conducting a mixed-method analysis that includes an original, largely representative sample of public Facebook posts in post-coup Myanmar. We find that the development of online and hybrid pro-democracy activism against digital abuse and other illiberal policies under previous quasi-civilian governments enabled anti-coup resistance forces to thwart the military's attempt of authoritarian revival in 2021. Our research findings deepen understanding of Myanmar's post-coup contestation dynamics as well as other cases of unpopular autocratization in the current-day digital era.


Mai Van Tran is a Postdoc at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. Her research focuses on contentious politics and digital cultures under authoritarianism in Myanmar and beyond.

Megan Ryan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan and was a 2020 United States Institute of Peace Scholar. She studies democratization in military regimes and contentious politics with a focus on Myanmar.

Chair: Hunter Marston and Cecile Medail


The dialogues in the series will be held in hybrid mode, i.e., in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.

  • IN-PERSON: PSC Reading Room, Level 4, Hedley Bull Building #130, Cnr Garran Rd and Liversidge Street, ANU, Acton, 2600 ACT
  • ONLINE: Zoom. Once you register here, you will receive access to the online event page in Eventbrite where you will find the join link for the zoom meeting. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode. We look forward to seeing you there.

For more information on the MRC 2022 Dialogue Series please see the MRC website or contact the Convenors

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