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Annika Pohl Harrisson

Fish caught in clear water: encompassed statemaking in south-east Myanmar

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This paper explores processes of state-making by the New Mon State Party (NMSP), an ethnic armed organization (EAO) that claims to represent the Mon people in south-east Myanmar, and which has fought the Myanmar military to pursue self-representation for the past 50 years. Based on ethnographic
fieldwork, the paper focuses on a specific area that is encompassed by three states in the making: the NMSP, the official Myanmar state and another EAO, the Karen National Union (KNU). The paper shows that NMSP state-making happens neither in parallel to nor through a simple separation from the Myanmar government and the KNU, but through different forms of encompassment. It introduces the concept of ‘encompassed state-making’ to capture the simultaneous mimicry and opposition of the NMSP’s state-making practices in relation to the other two states. A core argument is that Mon villagers –
albeit deeply loyal towards the NMSP and considering them the legitimate authority – constantly have to take into account the ongoing political transformation in the country and therefore critically have to engage in managing their lives in this encompassed state in formation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTerritory, Politics, Governance
Pages (from-to)533-552
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

    Research areas

  • state-making, rebel governance, state space, territory, sovereignty, encompassment, governance, Myanmar

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