“Varieties of State Building in the Borderland Area between China and Mainland Southeast Asia” by Enze Han, 02/05/2016, UCLA Berkeley

“In his book The Art of Not Being Governed, James Scott laments how the combination of technological prowess and sovereign ambitions has significantly compromised the stateless spaces in upland Southeast Asia. Yet, little research has been done to comparatively analyze how the processes of modern state building occurred in the borderlands between China and mainland Southeast Asia. This project examines how the multi-ethnic frontiers have been managed, and how the interplay between domestic politics and international relations since the end of WWII have affected different patterns of state building in Southwest China, upper Myanmar, and northern Thailand. Specifically it forwards an argument that the success of one country’s state building in the borderlands might actually hinder or sabotage the same such process in a neighboring country. The project examines the following set of questions. How did China and Thailand consolidate their respective control over this multi-ethnic borderland, especially during the tumultuous Cold War period when both faced both internal and external threats to their rule? Why has Myanmar not been able to project a centralized and exclusive control over this territory, where various ethnic rebels continue to hold out? Given their different political systems and international alignment patterns, how have the state building efforts in one country affected such attempts in the neighboring one(s)?”


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