Dr. Kristina Simion.

Myanmar’s transition after a new civilianized government emerged in 2011 came to excite investors and development practitioners from across the world. As a larger space appeared for development actors from abroad to engage in the former isolated authoritarian country intermediaries’ – individuals – or groups of individuals – who operate as ‘translators’ of the concepts that accompany foreign actors’ transnational ‘project’ of supporting legal systems in fragile settings emerged to help enable access, build relationships, broker trust, mediate understandings and conflicts, and translate concepts that travel with development interventions.

Fast-forward ten years, after the 2021 military coup attempt in Myanmar, individuals that mingled with foreign actors and exposed their work for rule of law during the country’s transitional decade are now hiding from arrest. What happens to the agents of development aid in settings that face significant political unrest? What lessons can we learn from the work of intermediaries in understanding why development ideals like ‘rule of law’ have a hard time gaining root in particular societies? And, what happens to the transnational relationships that were formed during political liberalism when daily insecurity becomes an ingrained way of life for the people that stays behind when foreign development actors are evacuated?

In this seminar Kristina Simion draws on the findings from her recent book “Rule of Law Intermediaries: Brokering Influence in Myanmar” and her experience as a development practitioner working with Myanmar to discuss questions of local agency and donor efficiency and responsibility in insecure environments.

Dr. Kristina Simion is a Research Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs’ Asia Programme. Kristina is also a specialist in the Swedish government (Folke Bernadotte Academy), focusing on rule of law development assistance and Myanmar. She is a visiting fellow at the Department of Political & Social Change, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. She teaches the course 'Law, Culture and Society in Asia' as part of Stockholm University's Master Program in Global Asian Studies at the Department of Political Science and is the author of 'Rule of Law Intermediaries: Brokering Influence in Myanmar' (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

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