You are here

Varieties of State Building in the Borderland Area between China and Mainland Southeast Asia

UC Berkeley Center for Chinese Studies hosts a talk by Enze Han on state formation in the borderland area between China and Southeast Asia.

May 2, 2016 5:00pm to 6:30pm

Speaker: Enze Han, Senior Lecturer, Politics and International Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Sponsors: Center for Southeast Asia Studies, Center for Chinese Studies (CCS)

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)?


Dr. Enze Han (Ph.D., George Washington University) is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS, University of London. 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. His recent publications include Contestation and Adapation: The Politics of National Identity in China (2013), and journal articles appearing in The Journal of Contemporary China, The China Quarterly, Security Studies and the Cambridge Review of International Affairs. Previously, Dr. Han was a postdoctoral fellow in the China and the World Program, Princeton University. He is currently a member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.