After decades of mismanagement and direct military rule, Myanmar's contested transition to a more democratic government has rapidly shifted the outlook in this significant Southeast Asian nation.
Since 2011, the removal of Western sanctions and new foreign investments have resulted in high rates of economic growth and an expanding middle class, albeit from a very low base.
In a result unthinkable a few years earlier, former political prisoner and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), formed a national government in early 2016.
However, despite significant political and economic reforms since the liberalisation process commenced, the transition to civilian rule remains constrained by the military's 2008 Constitution, which guarantees that it operates unfettered by civilian oversight.
As a result, although some ethnic conflicts have abated, others continue to fester and new conflicts have erupted.
With a daunting task ahead the NLD government has made some progress in removing the vestiges of repressive military-era laws but many remain untouched and some of the practices of the new government provide unwelcome reminders of its authoritarian history. This timely Handbook describes the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of this crucial period of transition in Myanmar.
It presents explanations for contradictory trends, including those that defy some of the early narratives about the comprehensive transformation of Myanmar.
The Handbook also considers the impact of major environmental, strategic, and demographic trends which help underscore that Myanmar's development will be an ongoing task.
In addition to introductory and concluding chapters by the editors, the body of the Handbook is divided into seven core sections:* Fundamentals* Spaces* Cultures* Living* Governance* International* ChallengesWritten by an international team of scholars, with a mix of world-leading established academics and talented emerging researchers, the Handbook provides a rigorous scholarly overview of Myanmar's politics, economics, and society.
As Myanmar opens to Western businesses and government agencies, this is an invaluable reference book that will provide a foundation for further research and offer the first port of call for scholars, students, and policy makers working on Myanmar and Asia.