Ashley South has 20 years’ experience as an independent author, researcher and consultant. He has a PhD from the Australian National University, and an MSc from SOAS (University of London), and is a Research Fellow at Chiang Mai University.

Main research interests: ethnic conflict and peace processes in Burma/Myanmar and Mindanao; forced migration (refugees and internally displaced people); politics of language and education; climate change (mitigation, adaptation and resilience).


My latest

A New Look at Federalism in Myanmar (Peace and Conflict Resolution Evidence Platform/PeaceRep, University of Edinburgh, 26 July 2022)

In the absence of a legitimate or credible central government, political sovereignty in Myanmar rests with Ethnic Armed Organisations (or 'Ethnic Resistance Organisations') and allied groups. This recognition of ethnic homelands should form the basis of discussions on federalism in Burma.

Federalism has long been considered an important tool for resolving Myanmar’s protracted state-society conflicts and achieving self-determination for ethnic nationality communities, and has often been discussed in terms of the need to revise or replace the 2008 constitution. This report takes a ‘bottom up’ approach, exploring how emergent and networked forms of ‘federal practice’ already exist in EAO areas, which could be better acknowledged and supported.

Myanmar needs Federal Democracy, based on recognition of existing governance administration systems at the state level.

  • [Burmese translation pending]




CLIMATE CHANGE IN A NORTHERN KAREN VILLAGE: Reflections on Luthaw Township Livelihoods - Part Two (Protracted Displacement Economies Research Briefing by Ashley and Joe South, Covenant Institute May 2022) - PDF

& Karen translation

The aim of this memo is to support food sovereignty in Kawthoolei. At present, most people have enough rice to eat,
most of the time - although for Internally Displaced People there are many challenges, including regular Myanmar Army
attacks on civilians and Tatmadaw occupation of farmland. Northern Karen State may soon approach a ‘tipping point’,
where climate change and conflict undermine food security, unless steps are taken to address these challenges.




The Dogmeat Diaries - blog for the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies:




  • 2003 [second edition 2005] – Mon Nationalism and Civil War in Burma: The Golden Sheldrake (RoutledgeCurzon)


Christian and Daoist studies



  • Protecting Myanmar’s Forests - November 2021:\
  • This short film was presented at the COP-26 Climate Conference (in the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion) on 5 November 2021.   It shows how Karen and Kachin indigenous peoples protect Burma’s forests against the military junta and other threats. This inspiring film features Dr Tu Hkawng (National Unity Government, Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental   Conservation) and Saw Paul Sein Twa (KESAN, the 2020 Goldman Prize Winner), and explains how indigenous people fight climate change and sustain both human communities and ecosystems. Produced by Tom Sheahan and Ashley South.


Chapters in edited volumes

  • 2022 - Evolving climate change governance in Myanmar: Limitations and opportunities in a political crisis, by
    Adam Simpson and Ashley South (in 'Governing Climate Change in Southeast Asia: Critical Perspectives', Routledge - ed. Jens Marquardt, Laurence L. Delina and Mattijs Smits):
  • 2015 - Governance and Political Legitimacy in the Peace Process (in 'Myanmar: the dynamics of an evolving polity', Lynn Reiner - ed. David Steinberg)
  • 2014 - 3 Chapters in 'Burma/Myanmar: where now?', NIAS Press Copenhagen - eds Mikael Gravers & Flemming Ytzen - PDF [with Charles Petrie] - PDF & PDF
  • 2010Karen Legitimacy and Conflict (in ‘Ruling Myanmar’, Australian National University/ISEAS Singapore - eds Trevor Wilson, Monique Skidmore & Nicholas Cheesman)
  • 2007Conflict and Displacement in Burma/Myanmar (in ‘Myanmar: The State, Society and the Environment’, Australian National University/ISEAS Singapore - eds Trevor Wilson & Monique Skidmore)
  • 2007Ceasefires and Civil Society: The Case of the Mon (in the ‘Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma’, NIAS Press - ed. Mikael Gravers) – PDF


Peer-reviewed academic articles

  • 2021 - Towards “Emergent Federalism” in Post-coup Myanmar ('Contemporary Southeast Asia,' Vol43.No.3, December 2021) - PDF  - Burmese language translation
  • 2021 - Empty Ways: Christian Prayer and Daoist Meditation ('Journal of Daoist Studies', Vol.14 2021) - PDF (slightly revised version of the published article)
  • 2018 - Power Dynamics of Language and Education Policy in Myanmar’s Contested Transition [Marie Lall and Ashley South] ('Comparative Education Review', vol. 62, no. 4)
  • 2018 - Daoism and Peacebuilding: Toward an Agenda for Research and Practice ('Journal of Daoist Studies', Vol.11) -

  • 2017 - “Hybrid Governance” and the Politics of Legitimacy in the Myanmar Peace Process ('Journal of Contemporary Asia') -
  • 2016 - From Rebels to Rulers: The Challenges of Transition for Nonstate Armed Groups in Mindanao and Myanmar [with Christopher M. Joll] ('Critical Asian Studies', Vol.48, No.2) - PDF
  • 2016 - Language, Education and the Peace Process in Myanmar [with Marie Lall] ('Contemporary Southeast Asia' Vol.38, No.1) - PDF
  • 2015 – Forced Migration: typology and agency in Southeast Myanmar [with Kim Jolliffe] (‘Contemporary Southeast Asia’ Vol.37, No.2) – PDF
  • 2013 – Comparing Models of Non-state Ethnic Education in Myanmar: the Mon and Karen national education regimes [with Marie Lall] (‘Journal of Contemporary Asia’)
  • 2012 – The Politics of Protection in Burma: beyond the humanitarian mainstream ('Critical Asian Studies', Vol.44, No.2):
  • 2008 – Civil Society in Burma: The Development of Democracy Amidst Conflict (East-West Centre, Washington – ‘Policy Studies’ No.51) 
  • 2007 – Karen Nationalist Communities: The ‘Problem’ of Diversity (‘Contemporary Southeast Asia’ Vol.29, No.1 - ISEAS/National University of Singapore) – PDF
  • 2007 – Burma: The Changing Nature of Displacement Crises (Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University, Working Paper No.39) – PDF
  • 2004 – Political Transition in Myanmar: A New Model for Democratization (‘Contemporary Southeast Asia’ Vol.26, No.4 – ISEAS/National University of Singapore) – PDF



  • July 2022 - A New Look at Federalism in Myanmar (Peace and Conflict Resolution Evidence Platform/PeaceRep, University of Edinburgh)
    • [Burmese translation pending]
  • May 2022 - Climate Change in a Northern Karen Village: Reflections on Luthaw Township Livelihoods - Part Two (Protracted Displacement Economies Research Briefing by Ashley and Joe South, Covenant Institute May 2022) - PDF & Karen translation
  • January 2022 - Northern Karen State: Reflections on Luthaw Township Livelihoods (Covenant Institute, GCRF - Protracted Displacement Economies project) - PDF
  • December 2021 - Ethnic Armed Organisations and Climate Change in Myanmar (Search for Common Ground, 14 December 2021) - PDF -  & Burmese translation
  • January 2021 - Language and Education in Chin State (Myanmar Education Partnerships Project), by Ashley South, Nicola Edwards, Tyler Davis, Cin Khan Lian, Rachel Niang Dim, Mai Naomi Thang, Emily Stenning, Tim Schroeder - PDF [English] - PDF [Burmese language]

  • November 2020 - COVID-19: Coordination, Collaboration & Interim Arrangements (Covenant Consult):

            available in English and Burmese languages


Shorter articles


          Burmese language version:

            Burmese translation:

  • January 2014 – Inside the Peace Process, 'The Myanmar Times' - PDF
  • September 2012 – From Ceasefires to Lasting Peace?, 'The Myanmar Times' - PDF
  • September 2012 – China as a New Aid Actor, 'The Global Times' 11-9-2012 - PDF [this is the original article, the published version being somewhat shorter]
  • March 2012 – Resolving Ethnic Conflicts in Burma - Ceasefires to Sustainable Peace,‘The Irrawaddy’ - PDF
  • June 2011 – Burma’s New Challenge , ‘Pacific Forum CSIS’ (PacNet#32) – PDF
  • December 2010 – Post-Election Politics in Burma - Glimmers of Hope? , ‘The Irrawaddy’ – PDF
  • November 2010 – Voting, But Not As We Know It, ‘The World Today’ (Chatham House) – PDF
  • July 2010 – Making the Best of a Bad Election, ‘The Irrawaddy’ – PDF
  • May 2010 – Burma's Electoral Dilemmas, 'The World Today' (Chatham House) - PDF
  • March 2010 – Self-protection and Survival in Southeast Burma, ‘Humanitarian Exchange’ – PDF
  • November 2008 – Economics Crisis and Human Rights, ‘The World Today’ (Chatham House) – PDF
  • August 2008 – Electoral Dilemmas, Independent Mon News Agency commentary (4-8-2008) – PDF
  • July 2008 – Burma after the Cyclone: Making a Disaster Out Of the Cyclone, ‘The World Today’ (Chatham House) – PDF
  • April 2008 – Humanitarian Aid to IDPs in Burma: activities and debates, ‘Forced Migration Review’ (Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University) – PDF
  • March 2008 – Prospects for Burma’s New Constitution, Independent Mon News Agency commentary (17-3-2008) – PDF
  • February 2008 – Mahn Sha La Phan: Resistance leader of Burma’s Karen people, ‘The Guardian’ obituary (18-2-2008) – PDF
  • December 2007 – Crisis on the Burma Border, ‘The Nation’ (20-12-2007) – PDF
  • October 2007 – Mon Nationalist Movements: insurgency, ceasefires and political struggle – paper presented at ‘Seminar on Discovery of Ramanndesa’, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, (11-10-2007), published by Mon Unity League (Bangkok, January 2008) – PDF
  • August 2007 – What lies ahead for Burma’s cease-fires, ‘The Nation’ (8-1-2007) – PDF
  • October 2006 – The Quest for Karen Unity, ‘The Irrawaddy’ – PDF
  • October 2006 – Border-based Insurgency: Time for a Reality Check, ‘The Irrawaddy’ online – PDF
  • September 2004 – Beyond the National Convention, ‘The Irrawaddy’ – PDF
  • November 2001 – Burma’s  Ex-Insurgents: The Mon Ceasefire and Political Transition, ‘Burma Debate’ (Vol. VIII, Fall 2001) – PDF