At the margins of a ‘development darling’: intersections between sovereignty, territory, and development in Karen State, Myanmar



Shona began her DPhil in human geography in October 2017. Her research on the politics of state-making and development in southeast Myanmar is jointly funded by the Clarendon Fund Scholarship and the Christ Church Graduate Scholarship.

Shona holds a B.Soc.Sci. with First Class Honours from the National University of Singapore, majoring in Geography and minoring in English Literature (2012-2015). She also completed her M.Soc.Sci. in Geography at the National University of Singapore (2015-2017). Her Masters dissertation was entitled 'From Battlefields to Marketplaces: Geo-economic Hope and Displacement along the Thai-Myanmar Border'. It focuses on how international responses to Myanmar's political transition are affecting the lives of undocumented and semi-documented Burmese migrants residing in a Thai border town.

Current Research

Shona's doctoral research aims to use ethnographic methods to critically examine the politics of state-making and development in Karen State, Myanmar.

Since Karen State emerged from six decades of civil war with a ceasefire signed in 2012, Myanmar's central government and a variety of international donors have been keen to initiate development projects in the area. However, social service delivery in Karen State has long been provided by civil society groups linked to the Karen rebellion, many of whom operated illicitly from across the Thai border. One can therefore ask how the international development regime intersects with these already-existing and highly politicized forms of assistance. Shona therefore hopes to understand how local people understand and position themselves within these changes through several months of fieldwork in Karen State from late 2018 to early 2019. She is also interested in understanding various states' geopolitical interests in Myanmar through the lens of development aid.

Shona would like to get in touch with anyone who is interested in development, state-making, and borderlands in Southeast Asia.

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Other research and writing