Frontier Capitalism and Politics of Dispossession in Myanmar: The Case of the Mwetaung (Gullu Mual) Nickel Mine in Chin State

Rainer Einzenberger


Since 2010, Myanmar has experienced unprecedented political and economic changes described in the literature as democratic transition or metamorphosis. The aim of this paper is to analyze the strategy of accumulation by dispossession in the frontier areas as a precondition and persistent element of Myanmar’s transition. Through this particular regime of dispossession – described as frontier capitalism – the periphery is turned into a supplier of resource revenues to fuel economic growth at the center. The paper takes up the case study of the Mwetaung (Gullu Mual) nickel mine on the border to Chin State and the “politics of dispossession” around this project. It analyzes the strategies, motives, and objectives of a broad ad-hoc coalition that emerged in 2013 to defend their access to land against forms of legal dispossession by the state. In this case, the attempted dispossession has been successfully challenged, by making use of new opportunities for political participation.


Chin State; Frontier; Mining; Myanmar; Politics of Dispossession

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