Gerard McCarthy is Associate Director of ANU’s Myanmar Research Centre and doctoral candidate in the Department of Political & Social Change.
Supervised by Dr. Nicholas Farrelly, his doctoral research explores informal institutions and the contemporary social, political and moral legacies of military rule in provincial Myanmar. Throughout 2015 and 2016 he conducted over 16 months of ethnographic and survey research in central-east Myanmar (Bago Region and Kayin State) focusing on informal social and political institutions, and their evolution in the context of Myanmar’s ongoing transition to democracy.
His Myanmar-focused publications based on this research include work on informal social welfare, taxation and public goods provision and the notions of ‘moral citizenship’ animating them; provincial elites and their contemporary civilianization of power; the internet, cyber-spaces and social media activism; and the role of gendered rumour-sharing in formation of anti-Muslim sentiment.
Gerard has advised and consulted for a range of agencies including International Growth Centre Myanmar, United States Institute of Peace, The Carter Centre and TechChange. His writing and commentary on Myanmar, Sri Lanka, South Sudan and Australia has been published in outlets including the Journal of Contemporary Asia, Institute of South East Asian Studies, New Mandala, The Myanmar Times, The Guardian, Lowy Institute for International Affairs, DevPolicy and ABC News. Throughout 2015 and 2016 he was also a Visiting Fellow at University of Yangon’s Department of International Relations where he ran workshops on research design and provides ongoing support for a project on Myanmar’s peace process.
• “Gendered rumours and the Muslim scapegoat in Myanmar’s transition”, with Menager, J., Journal of Contemporary Asia (forthcoming).
• “Cyberspaces”, in Farrelly, Holliday & Smith (eds), Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Myanmar (forthcoming), Routledge.
• “’The Value of Life’: Moral citizenship and notions of the ‘nation’ in provincial Myanmar” in South, A. & Lall, M. (eds), Ethnic Politics and Citizenship in Transition Burma/Myanmar (forthcoming), Chiang Mai University Press/ISEAS.
In Myanmar last year, Gerard McCarthy spent hours talking with local merchants who had gone village to village dispersing propaganda sermons from Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu.
As Myanmar prepares for historic polls in November, moral ideas of citizen-led social assistance continue to loom large, writes Gerard McCarthy.