Webinar: “Urbanization in precarious times: Critiquing development in ‘transitional’ Myanmar”

13:00 to 14:30

The Stockholm Center for Global Asia is hosting a webinar with Stephen Campbell, School of Social Science at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore:

“The February 2021 coup in Myanmar has exposed a deep divide in the country’s oppositional politics. On the one hand, ardent supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy call for a restoration of pre-coup politics. On the other hand, radical students, ethnic minority populations, and other domestic critics maintain strong opposition to the pre-coup arrangement—the so-called “transition” spanning 2011 to 2021. Given this divergence, I stress the enduring need, in the current post-coup moment, for a sober critique of the country’s pre-coup political economy. I draw, therefore, in this presentation, on ethnographic research I conducted in Myanmar from 2016 to 2019 to interrogate the political economy of the so-called transition, as experienced by rural-to-urban migrants residing at a squatter settlement on Yangon’s industrial outskirts. I argue that enduring modernist claims by international actors operating in Myanmar served to legitimate a development agenda that pushed villagers out of rural areas in the name of efficiency and economic growth but left them dependent on a fragile economic arrangement with no effective public supports. For hundreds of thousands of rural-to-urban migrants, the result has been extreme economic vulnerability, which the Covid-19 economic downturn and post-coup industrial contraction have only exacerbated“.