Event — Webinar - IIAS Book Talks Series

Narrating Democracy in Myanmar. The struggle between activists, democratic leaders and aid workers

What does democracy mean to Burmese activists and democratic leaders, and to their international allies? This talk explores contested meanings of democracy in Myanmar and how attention to these contests can help make sense of the country’s tortuous political path over the last ten years.

This webinar will take place from 12:00 - 13:30 p.m. Amsterdam Time (Central European Summer Time, CEST).

The book talk

This talk explores contested meanings of democracy in Myanmar amongst Burmese activists and democratic leaders, and their international allies. Attention to these contested meanings helps make sense of the country’s tortuous political path since Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won historic elections in 2015. Using Burmese and English language sources, Wells’ book Narrating Democracy in Myanmar reveals how the country’s ongoing struggles for democracy exist not only in opposition to Burmese military elites, but also within networks of local activists and democratic leaders, and international aid workers.

The talk will also explore events since the recent coup in Myanmar and how the tragic recent path of Myanmar’s politics relates to contests over the meaning of democracy. Viewing the coup, and citizen protests, only through a binary lens of authoritarianism and liberal democracy, serves to obscure the diverse meanings of democracy that inspire Myanmar’s political actors.

The speaker

Tamas Wells is a Research Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on meanings of democracy, governance, freedom and accountability in Southeast Asia and the role of international aid agencies. His work has been published in Democratization, Journal of Contemporary Asia and Public Management Review journals. Before entering academia, he worked in Myanmar for six years with various NGOs - including Save the Children - on governance, public health and civil society strengthening programs.


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