March 24, 2020

This article examines the process of state consolidation, or its failure, in a state’s borderland area with neighboring states in upland Southeast Asia. It proposes that we should conceptualize state consolidation as an interactive process heavily influenced by a “neighborhood effect.” It argues that we should look at how state consolidation in one country’s borderland area can be influenced by the same process in the neighboring states. In particular, the article probes under what conditions the neighborhood effect of state consolidation might take place. It argues that the effect is more profound in situations where there is power asymmetry between neighboring states, and the extent of such effect is further conditioned upon the nature of relations among these states. Empirically, this article uses a set of comparative case studies Myanmar’s modern history of state consolidation in its borderland area to illustrate the proposed theoretical framework. Differentiating between the country’s eastern borders with China and Thailand vs. its western borders with Bangladesh and India, the article empirically examines Myanmar’s state consolidation processes to illustrate the theoretical framework, focusing on variations of power balance and nature of relations between the country and its neighbors since the end of World War II.


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Dr. Enze HAN is Associate Professor at the Department of Politics and Public Administration.  His research interests include ethnic politics in China, China's relations with Southeast Asia, especially with Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand, and the politics of state formation in the borderland area between China, Myanmar and Thailand. Dr. Han received a Ph.D in Political Science from the George Washington University in the United States in 2010. Afterwards he was a postdoctoral research fellow in the China and the World Program at Princeton University. During 2015-2016, he was a Friends Founders' Circle Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, USA. In 2017, he was a fellow at the East Asia Institute in Seoul, South Korea. His research has been supported by the Leverhulme Research Fellowship, and British Council/Newton Fund. Prior to Hong Kong, Dr. HAN was Senior Lecturer in the International Security of East Asia at SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom.