Current Institutional Affiliation
Adjunct Senior Fellow, Research Program, East-West Center

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Environmental Science, University of California / Berkeley
Ceasefire Capitalism: Military-Private Concessions, Counterinsurgency, and Territorialization in the Burma-China Borderlands

Greater territorial control by the Burmese military-state in northern Burma’s former war zones have been met with increasing flows of Chinese finance capital. These new post-war alliances between Burmese military commanders and Chinese state-backed private investors have resulted in large-scale Chinese resource extraction concessions. I hypothesize that Chinese land investments along Burma’s northern borderlands act as strategic territorial interventions, or counterinsurgency mechanisms, which strengthen Burmese national military-state institutions in the country’s politically-contested ethnic periphery. This combination of Chinese investment and military-private alliances coming together in ceasefire zones constitute what I call “ceasefire capitalism”. I hypothesize that regional political histories and narco-economies simultaneously invite and challenge Chinese land investment, but the political effects of these spatial productions cause military and state building. Three case studies have been selected that each covers a different resource commodity in different ethnic territories: Chinese timber concessions, Chinese rubber concessions, and villager-led community forests meant to block land dispossession from Chinese concessions. My political ecology of war and political geography disciplinary approaches advance a theoretical triage among Marx-Lefebvre-Foucault that seeks to territorialize governmentality while decentering “the state” to explain how a military-state captures private capital to produce new violent governance regimes. I document state and non-state actors’ roles in military and state building through interviews, surveys, GPS, and community mapping. This study will contribute to the global land grab debate, resource curse literature, state-sovereignty-territory debates, counterinsurgency literature, and understanding the instruments of state building in post-war, indigenous territory.