This book provides a sophisticated, yet accessible, overview of the key political, economic and social challenges facing contemporary Myanmar and explains the complex historical and ethnic dynamics that have shaped the country.

With clear and incisive contributions from the world’s leading Myanmar scholars, this book assesses the policies and political reforms that have provoked contestation in Myanmar’s recent history and driven both economic and social change. In this context, questions of economic ownership and control and the distribution of natural resources are shown to be deeply informed by long-standing fractures among ethnic and civil-military relations. The chapters analyse the key issues that constrain or expedite societal development in Myanmar and place recent events of national and international significance in the context of its complex history and social relations. In doing so, the book demonstrates that ethnic and cultural diversity is at the core of Myanmar’s society and heavily influences all aspects of life in the country.

Filling a gap in the market, this research textbook and primer will be of interest to upper undergraduates, postgraduates and scholars of Southeast Asian politics, economics and society and to journalists and professionals working within governments, companies and other organisations.

1. Interrogating Contemporary Myanmar: The Difficult Transition  Part 1: Politics  2. Elections and Political Reform: New Hopes, Old Fears  3. The Military: Institution and Politics  4. Law, Lawyers and Legal Institutions  5. Ethnic Politics: Diversity and Agency Amidst Persistent Violence  6. Democracy and Human Rights: In the Shadow of Myanmar’s National Security State  7. Foreign Policy and International Engagement: Strategic Realities, Domestic Priorities  Part 2: Economy  8. Political Regimes and Economic Policy: Isolation, Consolidation, Reintegration  9. Industrial Policy and Special Economic Zones: Engaging Transformation in a Globalised World  10. Agriculture and the Rural Economy: The Struggle to Transform Rural Livelihoods  11. Natural Resources: Wealth and Conflict  Part 3: Society  12. Art and Heritage: Creating and Preserving Cultural Histories  13. Women's Rights: Change and Continuity  14. Myanmar’s Contested Borderlands: Uneven Development and Ongoing Armed Conflict  15. Ethnicity, Culture and Religion: Centralisation, Burmanisation and Social Transformation  16. Journalism and Free Speech: Freedom and Fear  17. The Rohingya Crisis: Nationalism and its Discontents