Htet Thiha Zaw

How to Repel a Rebel: State Presence in Colonial Burma

My dissertation project seeks to understand the strategy behind the colonial states in pursuing the two types of state-building process: (1) investments in physical coercion, and (2) investments in education. The project will look at what functions these two processes can serve to the colonial states, and consequently, what the colonial states pursued, when there is a risk of economic instability and violent conflict. My first paper identifies the continuities between the pre-colonial history and colonial history by estimating the effect of pre-colonial political centralization on the development of a coercive state in colonial Burma. My second paper provides a formal model for non-democratic states, identifying the conditions under which, given a level of coercive capacity, the state chooses education investments over coercive investments. My third paper evaluates the utility of the formal theory by developing two geo-located datasets on colonial repression and education in British Burma between 1890 and 1947.

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