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 armed conflicts and peace processes in Burma/Myanmar and Mindanao (politics of legitimacy and governance); politics of language and education; climate change, resilience and varieties of adaptation; philosophies of peace-building.


My latest

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



The Hongsa flies: Why the Mon Unity Party won where other ethnic parties failed -

Mi Kun Chan Non, Mi Sar Yar Poine & Ashley South ('Frontier Myanmar', 13 November 2020):



Towards a Tipping Point? Climate Change, Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in Southeast Myanmar - Ashley South and Liliana Demartini (ActionAid Myanmar, August 2020):

Full report in English, with summary/briefing paper in English, Burmese, Sgaw Karen and Pwo Karen.


Key Messages

  • Myanmar bears little responsibility for the climate crises affecting the planet. Nevertheless, the country is highly vulnerable to climate-related hazards.
  • Between 1981-2010, daily maximum temperatures went up by 0.4°C and are expected to increase further by the middle of the century. Serious changes in rainfall patterns are also expected, with sea levels rising between 20-41 cm by the mid-21st century. Already, the monsoon duration shows a significant reduction.
  • Climate change particularly impacts the agricultural sector, which employs the majority of people in Myanmar. Hazards disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable groups, such as conflict-affected people in Karen State who are increasingly exposed to floods and landslides, fire and droughts.
  • Climate change can be an opportunity (or “critical juncture”) to re-imagine the kind of world we live in, and struggle for transformations in state-society and power relations. ‘Building back better’ should include the transformation of social and political-economic relations, through supporting community and women’s leadership.
  • Local transformative capacity is strengthened when women take greater roles in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
  • DRR activities should be decentralized, within a federal constitutional framework, as envisaged in the peace process.
  • In the immediate aftermath of disaster, local self-help and coping mechanisms are the most important elements of response. Strong community networks, based on ethno-linguistic and religious identities (‘social capital’), have sustained and supported absorptive capacities and foster social protection.
  • Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture, including adopting new crops (green beans) can be an effective adaptation in areas where climate change is negatively impacting rice cultivation.
  • Many of Myanmar’s remaining forested areas of biodiversity are located in areas controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU) and other EAOs, who should play key roles in climate change governance in Southeast Myanmar, as acknowledged in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
  • The capacities and resilience of individuals, families and communities described in this report will be fundamental elements of a sustainable, just and equitable recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. However, these responses and adaptations may not be enough to achieve long-term climate change resilience, particularly in the more disastrous climate change scenarios.
  • Some communities may reach a ‘tipping point’, beyond which local adaptation strategies no longer work. Particularly vulnerable are potentially marginalised subgroups such as women and people with disabilities.




  • 2021 - Fragments of Myanmar: ethnicity, legitimacy, resilience in Burma (NIAS Press Copenhagen, forthcoming)


  • 2018 - Citizenship in Myanmar: ways of being in and from Burma, edited by Ashley South and Marie Lall (ISEAS Singapore and Chiang Mai University Press:
  • 2008 [second edition 2010] Ethnic Politics in Burma: States of Conflict (Routledge)
  • 2003 [second edition 2005] – Mon Nationalism and Civil War in Burma: The Golden Sheldrake (RoutledgeCurzon)


Chapters in edited volumes

  • 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
  • 2010 – Karen Legitimacy and Conflict (in ‘Ruling Myanmar’, Australian National University/ISEAS Singapore, eds Trevor Wilson, Monique Skidmore & Nicholas Cheesman)
  • 2007 – Conflict and Displacement in Burma/Myanmar (in ‘Myanmar: The State, Society and the Environment’, Australian National University/ISEAS Singapore, eds Trevor Wilson & Monique Skidmore)
  • 2007 – Ceasefires 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

  • 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



            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