Myanmar Transformed? Probing Change and Continuity in Post-2011 Myanmar



About the Seminar

The triumph of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy at the 2015 election was supposed to mark the consolidation of a reformist trajectory for Myanmar society. What has followed has not proved so straightforward. This panel discussion, featuring authors of the recently launched ISEAS publication ‘Myanmar Transformed? People, Places, Politics’ (2018), will take stock of the mutations, continuities and fractures at the heart of today’s political and economic transformations.

The seminar, including Justine Chambers, Nicholas Farrelly, Yaw Bawm Mangshang and Samuel Pursch, will ask:  What has changed under a democratically elected government? Where are the obstacles to reform? And is there scope to foster a more prosperous and inclusive Myanmar? With the peace process faltering, over 1 million people displaced by recent violence, and ongoing army dominance in key areas of decision-making, the panel will discuss the limits of change as well as areas of reform possible within the constraints of Myanmar’s hybrid civil–military governance arrangements.

About the Speakers

Justine Chambers is Visiting Fellow in the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute, and Associate Director of Australian National University’s Myanmar Research Centre. She has conducted more than 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Hpa-an, the capital of Karen state Myanmar, since 2015. Her doctoral research in ANU’s Department of Anthropology focused on understandings of morality and goodness in the post-conflict landscape of Karen state. She holds an MA in Development Studies (UNSW) and previously worked with refugee populations in Thailand, India and Australia.

Nicholas Farrelly is Associate Dean of Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific. After graduating from the ANU in 2003 with First Class Honours and the University Medal in Asian Studies, he completed his M.Phil and D.Phil at Balliol College, University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In 2006, while a graduate student, Nicholas founded New Mandala, a website which has gone on to become the preeminent public forum in Southeast Asian Studies. Nicholas recently served as a Deputy Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific and as Director of the ANU Myanmar Research Centre, an institution he helped establish in 2015.

Yaw Bawm Mangshang is an independent scholar based in Yangon. He co-founded the Nau Shawng Education Network (NSEN) in Myitkyina, Kachin State with a goal of cultivating democratic culture through civic education and higher education opportunities for young people. He graduated in 2015 from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, with the support of a Fulbright Scholarship.

Samuel Pursch is Associate Director in Vriens & Partners’ Hanoi office. From 2015 to 2018 he was co-founder and director of Andaman Research & Advisory, a socio-economic research and political risk advisory firm based in Yangon, Myanmar. From Andaman’s founding in 2015, Samuel managed projects for a variety of clients including World Bank’s Policy Research Paper on Myanmar’s Social Transformation. Samuel holds a master’s degree in War Studies: Conflict, Security and Development from King’s College London, and a BA in International Politics from The George Washington University.


Michael Wesley is Professor of International Affairs and Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at Australian National University. He has published on Australian foreign policy, Asia’s international relations and strategic affairs, and the politics of state-building interventions. His book, There Goes the Neighbourhood: Australia and the Rise of Asia (2011), was awarded the John Button Prize for the best writing on Australian politics and public policy. Previously, Professor Wesley was the Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU from 2014 to 2016, the Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy from 2009 to 2012, Director of the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University from 2004 to 2009, and Assistant Director-General for Transnational Issues at the Office of National Assessments from 2003-2004. He gained his PhD from the University of St Andrews and his BA (Honours) from the University of Queensland.


10.00 am Registration (Refreshments)
10.30 – 11.30 am Start of Seminar (Each panelist will speak for 15 minutes)
11.30 am Moderated discussion among panelists
11.45 am Discussant comments
12.00 – 12.30 pm Q&A
12.30 – 1.30 pm  End of Seminar


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 31 October 2018.


Nov 01 2018


10:00 am - 12:30 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2