Militias, Drugs, and Governance on the Myanmar-China Border


Brokered Rule: Militias, Drugs, and Borderland Governance in the Myanmar-China Borderlands” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2022 .2064327 ) is a new open access article by Patrick Meehan of the Department of Development Studies, SOAS University of London and Seng Lawn Dan of the Kachinland Research Centre, a non-profit research organization headquartered in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar.

The abstract for the article states:

Seng Lawn Dan

This article develops the concept of brokerage to analyse the systems of borderland governance that have underpinned processes of state formation and capitalist development in the conflict-affected Myanmar-China borderland region of northern Shan State since the late 1980s. It focuses on the brokerage arrangements that have developed between the Myanmar Army and local militias, and how the illegal drug trade has become integral to these systems of brokered rule. This article draws particular attention to the inherent tensions and contradictions surrounding brokerage. In the short term, deploying militias as borderland brokers has provided an expedient mechanism through which the Myanmar Army has sought to extend and embed state authority, and has also provided the stability and coercive muscle needed to attract capital, expand trade, and intensify resource extraction. However, at the same time, militias have sought to use their position as brokers to aggrandise their own power and counter the extension of central state control. In the longer term, brokerage arrangements have thus had the effect of reinvigorating systems of strongman borderland governance, further fragmenting the means of violence and the proliferation of drugs and disempowering non-militarised forms of political negotiation.


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