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Meehan, Patrick and Dan, Seng Lawn (2023) 'Brokered Rule: Militias, Drugs, and Borderland Governance in the Myanmar-China Borderlands.' Journal of Contemporary Asia, 53 (4). pp. 561-583.

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This article develops the concept of brokerage to analyse the systems of borderland governance that have underpinned processes of state formation and capitalist development in the conflict-affected Myanmar-China borderland region of northern Shan State since the late 1980s. It focuses on the brokerage arrangements that have developed between the Myanmar Army and local militias, and how the illegal drug trade has become integral to these systems of brokered rule. This article draws particular attention to the inherent tensions and contradictions surrounding brokerage. In the short term, deploying militias as borderland brokers has provided an expedient mechanism through which the Myanmar Army has sought to extend and embed state authority, and has also provided the stability and coercive muscle needed to attract capital, expand trade, and intensify resource extraction. However, at the same time, militias have sought to use their position as brokers to aggrandise their own power and counter the extension of central state control. In the longer term, brokerage arrangements have thus had the effect of reinvigorating systems of strongman borderland governance, further fragmenting the means of violence and the proliferation of drugs and disempowering non-militarised forms of political negotiation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Brokerage; territory; frontiers; Shan State; illicit economies; state-building
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 00472336
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 23 May 2022 08:51
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council

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