The Karen in 2017: Resilience, Aspirations and Politics

The Karen in 2017: Resilience, Aspirations and Politics

Thursday, 15 June 2017 - 9:30am to 4:30pm
Pavilion Room, St Antony's College


On Thursday June 15th 2017, a special one-day workshop from 9:30AM-4:30PM at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford will take stock of the aspirations, adaptive strategies and politics of ordinary people and ethnic leaders in Karen State, Burma/Myanmar as well as Karen refugee and diaspora communities.

After decades of intractable ethno-national conflict, military rule and economic stagnation, in the last five years Myanmar has seen a tentative transition to democracy coupled with economic and political liberalisation. Since the signing of a ceasefire between the Karen National Union and the Myanmar government in 2012, the lives of many Karen people have changed markedly. Yet despite significant improvements in some areas of Karen State, the future of the Karen in Burma/Myanmar, in Thailand and around the globe remains less than clear. In light of slow progress made so far in negotiating political transformation and autonomy since Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy took power in March 2016, many are beginning to question whether the peace process and the new government can deliver meaningful change.

It is in this context that the workshop will consider dynamics of of precarity, hybridity and resilience amongst Karen communities in Burma/Myanmar and internationally, with four panels comprised of scholars from Myanmar/Burma, the UK and internationally discussing education and health; livelihoods and community protection; migration and the borderlands; and prospects for peace.


The workshop will feature presentations by scholars and activists from the University of Oxford, Australian National University, Mobile Education Partnerships, Karen National Union, Nuffield Department of Population Health, Max Planck Institute, Central European University and Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

A full schedule will be available in early June.

‘The Karen in 2017’ workshop is being convened by Justine Chambers (ANU), Richard Dolan (Oxford), Pia Jolliffe (Oxford), Gerard McCarthy (ANU) and Matthew J. Walton (Oxford), with generous support of the Programme on Modern Burmese Studies at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford.


For further information, please contact Edit Greenhill on