Myanmar’s top-down transition: Challenges for civil society

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Myanmar’s top-down transition : Challenges for civil society. / Brenner, David; Schulman, Sarah.

I: IDS Bulletin, Vol. 50, Nr. 3, 2019, s. 17-36.

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Myanmar’s top-down transition

T2 - Challenges for civil society

AU - Brenner, David

AU - Schulman, Sarah

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - This article historicises the nature of political transition in Myanmar to better appreciate the challenges faced by civil society. After Myanmar’s political reforms in 2011, Western donors rushed into the country in support of what they misunderstood as a remarkable instance of democratisation. In 2019, escalating civil war, ethnic cleansing, and contracting civil liberties urge a rethink. This article argues that viewing transition in Myanmar through the lens of democratisation has always been misleading and problematic. Partial liberalisation was orchestrated by the military to safeguard its own power. Reforms have not only benefited civil society but also enabled the growth of uncivil society, fuelling sectarian violence and bolstering military rule. Operating on the assumption of democratisation, Western donors shifted funds from grass-roots networks to militarised state bureaucracies that seek to co-opt peace-building and development projects for the purposes of ethnocratic state-building and counterinsurgency. Rethinking the nature of transition is pivotal for preventing inadvertently aiding authoritarianism and conflict.

AB - This article historicises the nature of political transition in Myanmar to better appreciate the challenges faced by civil society. After Myanmar’s political reforms in 2011, Western donors rushed into the country in support of what they misunderstood as a remarkable instance of democratisation. In 2019, escalating civil war, ethnic cleansing, and contracting civil liberties urge a rethink. This article argues that viewing transition in Myanmar through the lens of democratisation has always been misleading and problematic. Partial liberalisation was orchestrated by the military to safeguard its own power. Reforms have not only benefited civil society but also enabled the growth of uncivil society, fuelling sectarian violence and bolstering military rule. Operating on the assumption of democratisation, Western donors shifted funds from grass-roots networks to militarised state bureaucracies that seek to co-opt peace-building and development projects for the purposes of ethnocratic state-building and counterinsurgency. Rethinking the nature of transition is pivotal for preventing inadvertently aiding authoritarianism and conflict.

KW - Aid

KW - Civil society

KW - Civil war

KW - Civil–military relations

KW - Democratisation

KW - Development

KW - Ethnic conflict

KW - Myanmar

KW - Peace‑building

KW - Transition

U2 - 10.19088/1968-2019.128

DO - 10.19088/1968-2019.128

M3 - Article

VL - 50

SP - 17

EP - 36

JO - IDS Bulletin

JF - IDS Bulletin

SN - 0265-5012

IS - 3

ER -