Democratic backsliding disrupted: The role of digitalized resistance in Myanmar

These 15-minute videos contain the highlights of talks delivered in the Myanmar Dialogue Series, a platform enabling public debate about the pressing political and social conditions in Myanmar since the 2021 military coup. Where Dialogue Series speakers give their permission, we will create a Dialogue Short which condenses the core points of their presentation.

The Shorts are perfect for undergraduate classes and other educational settings where students need concise information on current pressing political and social issues in Myanmar. Policymakers and people working in settings with a lot of time constraints might also find that they usefully summarize issues about which they need to be abreast in order do plan and make decisions on Myanmar — and that they draw attention to the many promising new scholars of Myanmar emerging both from within the country and abroad.

Title: Heritage Drinks of Myanmar

Speaker: Mai Van Tran and Megan Ryan

Mai Van Tran is a Postdoc at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. Her research focuses on contentious politics and digital cultures under authoritarianism in Myanmar and beyond.

Megan Ryan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan and was a 2020 United States Institute of Peace Scholar. She studies democratization in military regimes and contentious politics with a focus on Myanmar.

Date: 14 October 2022

Chair: Hunter Marston

More than one year since its coup, the Myanmar military has neither established effective control of the territory nor crushed online dissent. What factors have enabled the resistance forces to deny the consolidation of military rule? We address this question by building a novel theoretical framework that incorporates the role of long-standing digitalized pro-democracy activism and conducting a mixed-method analysis that includes an original, largely representative sample of public Facebook posts in post-coup Myanmar. We find that the development of online and hybrid pro-democracy activism against digital abuse and other illiberal policies under previous quasi-civilian governments enabled anti-coup resistance forces to thwart the military's attempt of authoritarian revival in 2021. Our research findings deepen understanding of Myanmar's post-coup contestation dynamics as well as other cases of unpopular autocratization in the current-day digital era.