Environment and politics in Myanmar and Thailand

JCA author Ashley South has reviewed the second edition of Adam Simpson’s Energy, Governance and Security in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma): A Critical Approach to Environmental Politics in the South for the journal (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1416154).

South states that Simpson’s “revised and expanded edition”:

…does a fine job of surveying the field of environmental activism and governance in these two countries, within the frame of critical security studies. The changing situation in both countries justifies this revision and update, including such important events as the 2014 military coup in Thailand and Myanmar’s first more-or-less democratic elections.

Eschewing the state-centric approach and with a focus on energy infrastructure projects, Simpson suggests that “environmental activists have important roles to play in communicating local concerns, and mediating between these and transnational activist networks, regional governments and international organisations.” Simpson shows the “connections between environmental and political concerns in the region …”.

South considers this “book is an important contribution” and demonstrates that “[l]ocal perspectives are particularly important in a context where large-scale energy projects often have detrimental impacts on local communities, while the benefits mostly accrue to national capitals and international political and financial institutions.”

South concludes:

This is a welcome revision of a useful and insightful book. There are some gaps… The author could have focused more on the role of private interests and corruption among those framing and implementing energy policies…. Simpson perhaps misses some chances to draw connections between environmental activism and the broader struggle for human rights…. Nevertheless, the book succeeds adamantly on its own terms. This is an important contribution to the literature. The arguments are tightly structured, and the case studies well chosen, richly described and incisively analysed.

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