Book Talk

Outsourcing the Polity: Non-State Welfare, Inequality, and Resistance in Myanmar




10:30 a.m. (UTC)


12:00 noon (UTC)

Photo of the book talk on politics in Myanmar, panelists speaking

  • Prof. Dr. Gerard McCarthy will provide an overview of his recently released book Outsourcing the Polity: Non-State Welfare, Inequality, and Resistance in Myanmar (Cornell University Press 2023).

    Based on almost a decade of fieldwork and research, the book examines how ideals and practices of non-state welfare can both sustain democratic resistance and undermine social reform over time. In this presentation he will frame out the primary concept of social outsourcing and trace it briefly from the colonial to the contemporary period, focusing particularly on how a reliance on non-state, charitable, private and religious actors was entrenched across successive regimes including during Myanmar's 'democratic decade' (2011-2021). The book talk will conclude with discussion on the role of non-state welfare actors in sustaining anti-dictatorship resistance and democratic political ideas since Myanmar's February 2021 coup.  

    Speaker:  Prof. Dr. Gerard McCarthy is Assistant Professor of Social Policy and Development at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague (part of Erasmus University of Rotterdam). He specializes in the politics of inequality and development in Southeast Asia, especially Myanmar where he has researched democracy, welfare and authoritarian legacies since 2013. He was previously Research Fellow at National University of Singapore's Asia Research Institute (2020-2023), Visiting Fellow at London School of Economics and Politics Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre (2022), Associate Director of the Myanmar Research Centre at Australian National University (2016-2019) and Visiting Fellow at Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore (2018). In addition to Myanmar, he has worked and conducted fieldwork in Singapore, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. 

    Discussant:  Han Htoo Khant Paing has obtained a Master of Public Policy from the University of Oxford. His research works focus on democratic institutions, ethnic and religious tolerance and social media. After the coup d'état in Myanmar in 2021, Han Htoo co-founded the University Students' Unions Alumni Forces, one of the most prominent protest groups in the country. 

    Chair: Prof. Dr. Patrick Köllner is Vice President of the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Director of the GIGA Institute for Asian Studies, and a Professor of Political Science at Universität Hamburg.

    Attendance If you are interested in joining this book talk, please register with Prof. Dr. Köllner:


    GIGA Institute for Asian Studies, Rothenbaumchaussee 32, 20148 Hamburg



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