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


Ethnic Minorities Eye Autonomy in Post-Junta Myanmar (The Irrawaddy, 29-4-2022) -

Following the 2021 coup, there is no viable central government in Myanmar. The junta is illegal and illegitimate and unable to effectively deliver government services. Instead, a range of ethnic armed and other resistance organizations have emerged as viable and legitimate governance entities.

Burmese language translation - PDF



Crisis, climate and emerging roles for armed ethnic groups (Myanmar Frontier, 3-2-2022) -

The triple stressors of COVID-19, climate change and the coup have ruptured the political landscape in Myanmar, making it possible to think about the roles of ethnic armed groups in new ways.



Towards “Emergent Federalism” in Post-coup Myanmar (Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol.43, No.3 - December 2021) - PDF - Burmese language translation

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 1 February 2021 coup, Myanmar is facing extraordinary human rights, political and socioeconomic crises. At this critical juncture, it is worth re-visiting and re-imagining the type of country Myanmar could be. Federalism has long been considered as the solution to the country’s protracted state-society and centre-periphery conflicts and to enable ethnic minority communities to achieve self-determination. However, discussions about federalism are often framed in terms of revising or replacing the 2008 Constitution in a top-down manner. While constitutional change is necessary, federalism can also be seen as an “emergent” phenomenon, developing from the “bottom-up” out of the existing structures and practices of the ethnic minority communities and the Ethnic Armed Organizations. Several EAOs have long-established governance regimes in their areas of control or influence, delivering a range of essential and life-saving public services to their communities. These local frameworks of public administration and services provision can serve as important building blocks of a bottom-up federalism, especially given the collapse of a credible and legitimate Myanmar state. As such, EAOs should be supported to develop their governance and services delivery systems. Arguably, the present multiple crises in Myanmar offers the closest approximation since the 1947 Panglong Conference of the idea that a federal union should emerge out of agreements among sovereign states, i.e. that state formation (and sovereignty) must precede a federal constitutional settlement.



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



            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