SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Patrick Meehan

BA (Oxford) History, MSC (SOAS) Development Studies
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Department of Development Studies

Senior Teaching Fellow in 2016/17

Mr Patrick Meehan
Email address:
Thesis title:
Fortifying or fragmenting the Myanmar state? The political economy of the opium trade in Shan State, 1988-2014
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


My research is focused on drugs and state formation in post-colonial Burma/Myanmar, specifically Shan State. I have been conducting field research in both Burma/Myanmar and on the Thai-Burma border since 2011, including a nine month period of extended fieldwork between October 2012 and June 2013.

PhD Research

My PhD research engages with the political economy of state building, the spatial dynamics of borderland regions and the mechanisms surrounding illicit economies.

I have conducted research assignments for the World Bank, ChristianAid and NOREF.


‘Fortifying or fragmenting the state? The political economy of the drug trade in Shan State, Myanmar, 1988-2012’, Critical Asian Studies, Special Issue: Illicit Economies, Sublegal Practices, and the State in Southeast Asia (Forthcoming)

‘Drugs, insurgency and statebuilding in Burma: Why the drugs trade is central to Burma's changing political order’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 42(3) (2011)

'Drugs, (dis)order and agrarian change: the political economy of drugs and its relevance to international drug policy' NOREF Occasional Paper, October 2014


  • ‘Fortifying or fragmenting the Myanmar state? China’s impact on Myanmar state consolidation strategies in the Shan borderland’ Paper to be presented at China-Myanmar Relations through a Multidisciplinary and Multidimensional Gaze, Department of Politics & Co-organized by the Department of Politics and Centre of Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), SOAS, University of London, London, UK, 6 June 2014
  • ‘Opium in the Myanmar-Thai borderworld: The political economy of a resurgent cross-border flow’
    Paper presented on panel: “Tangled crossroads: Flows of ideas, commodities and people through the Thai-Myanmar borderworld”, at Annual Southeast Asian Studies Symposium, Oxford, 22-23 March 2014
  • ‘The continuation of war by other means: An anatomy of the Palaung ceasefire in northern Shan State’, Paper presented at "Ceasefire: Reflections on community, politics and social change in the Kachin region of Burma (Myanmar), 1994 to the present" Conference, SOAS, London, 12 October 2013
  • ‘Drugs, insurgency and state consolidation in Burma’s eastern borderlands 1988-2012’
    Paper presented at 7th EuroSEAS Conference, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, 2-5 July 2013
  • ‘Coercion-intensive ‘peace’: Drugs, militarization and illiberal peacebuilding in Shan State’
    Paper presented at Peacebuilding in Asia Scholars Forum One-Day Workshop, Hosted by the Justice and Security Research Programme, at the London School of Economics, 21 March 2013
  • ‘Drugs, local politics and the subversion of global counter-narcotics ideology in Burma’s eastern borderlands, 1988-2012’, Paper presented at Local Politics, Global Impacts: Steps to a Multi-Disciplinary Analysis of Scales, The University of Chicago and the French Development Agency, Paris, 13-15 June 2012