The tail end of the twentieth century was a good time for constitutional lawyers. Leapfrogging around the globe, they offered advice on how to amend, write or rewrite one state constitution after the next following the collapse of the Soviet Union and with it, the communist bloc. Largely overlooked in the flurry of constitution drafting in this period, officials in Myanmar worked away on a new constitution without any experts from abroad—or, for that matter, many of those at home. Soldiers watched over them, dictating terms for what became the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar: the document that lays the parameters for formal political contestation and representation there today. As the country gets set to go to the polls in November 2020, in this episode of New Books in Southeast Asian Studies, Melissa Crouch
discusses her The Constitution of Myanmar: A Contextual Analysis
(Hart, 2019; shortlisted for the book award of the Australian Legal Research Awards
), and with it, the constitutional drafting process, its output, and its implications for politics in Myanmar now and in the foreseeable future
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Nick Cheesman is a Fellow in the Department of Political & Social Change, Australian National University. He co-hosts the New Books in Southeast Asian Studies channel and hosts the New Books in Interpretive Political & Social Science series on the New Books Network.