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Dr. Patrick Meehan: Drugs, (Dis)order and Development in the Myanmar-China borderlands

Dr Patrick Meehan works in Global Sustainable Development in the School of Cross-Faculty Studies at the University of Warwick, where he is leading a new research project on rare earth mining in the Myanmar-China borderlands. He is also a post-doctorate research fellow in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS. Between 2018 and 2022, he was a Co-Investigator on a five-year research project entitled 'Drugs and (dis)order: Building sustainable peacetime economies in the aftermath of war’, which focused on Afghanistan, Colombia and Myanmar. His research explores the political economy of violence, conflict and development, with a primary focus on Myanmar’s borderlands with China and Thailand. He has also conducted research for the UK Government Stabilisation Unit, the World Bank, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Conciliation Resources and Christian Aid.

This seminar provides insights into the political economy of the illegal drug trade in Myanmar based on extensive fieldwork conducted as part of a five-year research programme (2017-2022) led by SOAS University of London entitled 'Drugs and (dis)order: Building sustainable peacetime economies in the aftermath of war’.

Myanmar is the world’s second largest producer of illicit opium – most of which is converted into heroin within the country’s borders – and is also a major producer of methamphetamines. Most drug production is concentrated in the country’s borderlands with China and Thailand. This seminar explores how Myanmar’s flourishing drug economy is not only rooted in the country’s longstanding armed conflict, but is also central to processes of rapid political, economic and social change that have re-shaped Myanmar’s borderlands since the 1990s. Through exploring issues of cultivation, trafficking, and rising local drug use, this seminar reveals how drugs have become embedded in the DNA of the Myanmar state and the development processes through which Myanmar’s resource-rich borderlands have been integrated into the global economy.


Date: 27th October 2022

Time: 16:15-17:30

Venue: MS.05

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