Myanmar in a PodShell


The Podcast "Myanmar in a Podshell" provides analysis and background information on the situation in Myanmar. In each episode, proven experts have their say to shed light on specific social, political, cultural, religious or economic aspects.

In doing so, the broadest possible spectrum of opinions is taken into account. The aim is to bring the different points of view into dialogue in order to bridge the rifts and divisions that have dominated the country and discussions about the country for decades.

The episodes appear at irregular intervals.

The team of the podcast do not necessarily agree with the views expressed by the guests.

Transcipts: We started transcribing the individual episodes. Here is a list of the transcribed episodes so far.

Myanmar's politics is full of acronyms. They are also regularly used in the podcast. Our list of most common acronyms gives orientation.

For feedback, please send an email to one of the authors: Hans-Bernd Zöllner, Tim Schröder or Rodion Ebbighausen.


Episode 18

Interview with Martin Smith: "The Myanmar military is trying to contain the resistance not to defeat it"

In this special edition of Myanmar in a Podshell, we talk to one of the best experts on ethnic minorities in the country: Martin Smith. Together with Martin, we analyze the current situation in Myanmar and the central and destructive role played by the junta, but also what historical and contemporary challenges this poses for different ethnic minorities.


Martin Smith is an independent analyst who has researched and reported about Burma/Myanmar and ethnic nationality affairs since the early 1980s for a variety of media, non-governmental and academic organisations. He is the author of three very readable books about Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity; Ethnic Groups in Burma: Development, Democracy and Human Rights and State of Strife: The Dynamics of Ethnic Conflict in Burma.

This episode was recorded on 23 September 2023.

Episode 17

Myanmar's Many Revolutions and the Spring Revolution

In Myanmar, the resistance against the military has declared a Spring Revolution. This revolution aims for nothing less than the reinvention of the country. But the Spring Revolution is not the first revolution; it is one in a long line of revolutions - successful and failed - that Myanmar has seen. Episode 17 of Myanmar in a Podshell discusses the current revolution in contrast to previous revolutions.


Khin Zaw Win is an political analyst from Myanmar. He was Director of Tampadipa Institute in Yangon, working on policy advocacy on communal issues, land and nationalism. He was also a prisoner of conscience in Myanmar for "seditious writings" and human rights work. He has been associated with parliamentarians of various Myanmar parties, believing that pluralism has to be promoted. During the hybrid democracy’s ‘golden window decade’ he kept a hopeful and independent position, siding with neither the military nor the NLD establishment. He has been critical of both.

Hans-Bernd Zöllner is one of the authors of Myanmar in a Podshell, theologist and an independent Myanmar researcher who visited Burma for the first time in 1984. From the 1990s on, he started to research on the country’s history, politics and the relations between Burma/Myanmar and the world – and vice versa. He is particularly interested in the history of political ideas in Theravada Buddhist countries.

This episode was recorded on 11 August 2023.

Episode 16

Hardened Fronts - The Narrow Space for Diplomacy in Myanmar

So far, there has been no successful diplomatic initiative since the coup in Myanmar 2021. The international community is struggling to formulate a common position and seriously address the crisis. ASEAN, too, has failed with its five-point consensus. Myanmar in a Podshell discusses with the diplomats Charles Petrie and Scot Marciel the possibilities and limits of diplomacy in Myanmar.


Charles Petrie who has close to 30 years' experience operating in contexts of famine and conflict, much of it with the UN. He is the former coordinator of the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (2012-2016), former UN Assistant Secretary General, and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar (2003-2007). He is also the author of the internal review of the UN's failure in Sri Lanka.

Scot Marciel is the Oksenberg-Rohlen Fellow at Stanford University’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center and a Senior Advisor at Bower Group Asia. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in April 2022 after a 37-year career that included assignments as Ambassador to Myanmar, to Indonesia, and Ambassador for ASEAN Affairs. He also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and in U.S. Missions in the Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Turkey, and Brazil. Scot is the author of the new book: Imperfect Partners: The United States and Southeast Asia.

This episode was recorded on 6 May 2023.

Episode 15

No way out – The Rohingya between Myanmar and Bangladesh

Discussions are again being held on the repatriation of the Rohingya. History makes it clear that the vicious circle of displacement and repatriation could only be broken if more fundamental questions of citizenship and recognition were discussed. In this episode of Myanmar in a Podshell, we seek to discuss the situation of the Rohingya with a particular focus on the perspective from Bangladesh.


Jasmin Lorch a political scientist and Annemarie Schimmel Scholar at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy of the University of Erfurt. She has researched and published extensively on both Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Arafatul Islam is a multimedia journalist. He has covered the Rohingya crisis for years, especially after the most significant influx in 2017 for Germany's international broadcaster DW. He has also been covering migrant-related issues for InfoMigrants, a joint initiative by three European broadcasters financed by the European Union, to provide trusted information to migrants in Europe.

This episode was recorded on 24 March 2023.

Episode 14

War and Peace – Myanmar's armed struggle two years after the coup d'état

Civil war has been raging in Myanmar for almost two years now. The well-equipped military uses all means to break the resistance, but the resistance is unbroken. In this episode of "Myanmar in a Podshell", we talk about the conflict from a military perspective. What strategy is promising, what tactics should be used? And how will the conflict change in 2023?


Anthony Davis is a Bangkok-based security analyst and consultant with extensive field experience of a range of armed conflicts across the Asian region. He writes primarily for Jane's security and defense titles in addition to undertaking consultancy work for international corporations and non-governmental organizations.

Zachary Abuza is a professor at the National War College and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where he specializes in Southeast Asian and security affairs. He is the author of six books, five monographs, and hundreds of articles. He is a columnist with Radio Free Asia and his commentary can be found elsewhere in Nikkei Asian Review, The New York Times, and The South China Morning Post. He is a three-time Congressional witness. He has done extensive consulting work over the years for both private and public sector clients.

This episode was recorded on 29 January 2023.

Episode 13

Environment and Climate Change – The Looming Crisis Behind the Political Crisis

In view of the ongoing political crisis in Myanmar, environmental issues and the climate crisis have been pushed to the margins of attention. Myanmar however is one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries facing cyclones, draughts, floods just to name a few. Therefore, environment issues will have a massive impact on the country, its people and also its politics in the coming years.


Naw Anna Maria, whose real name we do not disclose for security reasons, is a researcher of ecological economics and political ecology, studying environmental justice cases worldwide, particularly in Japan and Myanmar. Her research focuses on environmental and climate justice activism and its implications in alternative pathways to sustainability.

Marianne Mosberg is a PhD candidate at the Department of International Environment and Development Studies, at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Her PhD research focuses on the politics of climate change and conflict dynamics in Southeastern Myanmar prior to the 2021 military coup. Before starting her current PhD project, Marianne worked as a climate change and disaster risk reduction advisor for a UN agency in Yangon.

This episode was recorded on 11 November 2022.

Episode 12

Myanmar's history and its significance for Myanmar's present

History seems to be repeating itself in Myanmar. The 1988 uprising and subsequent military takeover has many parallels to the nationwide uprising and coup of 2021. Of course, parallels do not mean that there are also significant differences - the consequences of digitalization are the most obvious. Myanmar in a Podshell speaks with two historians to understand what is similar and what is different, and to answer the central question: Is it possible to learn from history?


Jacques Pierre Leider is a French and Luxembourgian historian, teacher and former diplomat. He is known for his historical research on Burma/Myanmar, particularly pre-colonial Buddhism, the history of Arakan, today called Rakhine, in the Bay of Bengal and the ethno-historical background of the Burma/Myanmar-Bangladesh borderlands. He is doing research at the French Institute of Asian Studies.

Moe Thuzar coordinates the Myanmar Studies Programme at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. She joined ISEAS as a lead researcher in the Institute's ASEAN Studies Centre, after serving close to a decade at the ASEAN Secretariat. A former diplomat, Moe is researching Burma's foreign policy implementation over 1948 to 1988 for her PhD dissertation with the Department of History at the National University of Singapore. As an ISEAS Fellow, she has written and commented on ASEAN integration matters, as well as on issues and developments in Myanmar (including ASEAN-Myanmar relations).

This episode was recorded on 17 September 2022.

Episode 11

The Good, the Right, the Just - Myanmar's View of Law and Justice

The people of Myanmar are demanding justice. But there are different understandings of what justice is. The military government sees itself as the guarantor of law and order, but the resistance, the National Unity Government and the various ethnic groups see it as nothing but brutal despotism. They want to create a new law, a new rule of law, as part of their revolution. In a conversation with two researchers, we shed light on all these aspects of law and justice.


Helene Maria Kyed is a senior researcher and research unit leader at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) in Copenhagen. Anthropologist by training, she has done extensive ethnographic research on security and justice related issues in Mozambique, Swaziland, and Myanmar, focusing on theoretical questions of violence, sovereignty and legal pluralism. From 2015-2021, Kyed coordinated a collaborative research on Everyday Justice and Security in Myanmar, and currently she is engaged in a new project on the climate-conflict nexus in Myanmar. She is the editor of Everyday Justice in Myanmar: informal resolutions and state evasion in a time of contested transition (2020. Copenhagen: NIAS Press).

Nyan, whose full name we do not disclose for security reasons, is trained as political scientist. Her research works focuses on political economy, social justice, peace and conflict, current politics of Myanmar.

This episode was recorded on 12 August 2022.

Episode 10

No Chance for Peace? - Myanmar’s Long History of Violence

Myanmar has a long history of violence. There has been no period of nationwide peace since the end of the colonial era in 1948. With the coup d'état, the military has opened a new chapter in the conflict. We discuss what chances there are for genuine peace and what lessons should be learned from the failed peace attempts of the past.


Stein Tønneson is a historian and peace researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) whose research has focused on Vietnam, peace in East Asia and conflict in the South China Sea and Myanmar. His work on Myanmar has been published in Journal of Contemporary Asia, Small Wars and Insurgencies, PRIO Policy Briefs and as PRIO blogs.

Tony Waters is a Professor of Sociology who has taught in California, Thailand, and Germany. While in Thailand he worked closely with PhD students from Myanmar developing research topics about peace in that country. He is also an occasional contributor the "The Irrawaddy Magazine", criticizing the nature of international aid to the Myanmar Peace Process between 2015 and 2021.

This episode was recorded on 17 June 2022.

Transcript: An edited transcript of the episode can be found under the following link: 10 Myanmar in a PodShell

Episode 9

Myanmar's Economy - Back to the past?

Since the coup, Myanmar's economy is under immense pressure. People lost their income, poverty is on the rise, and the future prospects are bleak. Both, the military and the resistance are trying to cut off the enemy's sources of income. Overall, the economic damage is so huge that it can never be compensated for by humanitarian aid alone. Which leads to the difficult question: Is it possible to restart the economy without harming the people?


Richard Horsey is a widely published political analyst and has been a close observer of Myanmar for over 25 years. He specializes in the politics and political economy of the country, the situation in Rakhine State, as well as armed conflict and the illicit economy. Since 2009, he has been Myanmar adviser to the International Crisis Group, and also advises a number of other organizations on political and conflict risk issues. He is a fluent Burmese speaker and holds a PhD in psychology from University College London.

Jared Bissinger is a development economist who focuses on private sector development and labor markets. He has worked extensively in the Asia-Pacific region, especially Myanmar, and has authored dozens of global and national-level reports on the private sector, the business environment and labor markets.

This episode was recorded on 23 May 2022.

Transcript: An edited transcript of the episode can be found under the following link: 09 Myanmar in a PodShell

Episode 8

Journalism in a polarized environment – Myanmar Media and the Coup

Journalism in Myanmar has never been an easy endeavor. But since the coup d'état on 1 February 2021 things went from bad to worse. A lot of journalists have been jailed or fleed the country. The media landscape is split into supporters of the military and supporters of the National Unity Government and the so-called revolution. Space for unbiased reporting is severly limited.


Werner Eggert is the Founding Director of Interlink Academy, and also works as a media consultant and journalism trainer for various institutions in Germany and abroad. Werner has been active in international media development for more than twenty years. From 2014 to 2019, he worked as a media trainer and consultant in Yangon.

Mratt Kyaw Thu is a freelance journalist, blogger and podcaster. He started his career in 2010 and won AFP’s Kate Webb Prize in 2017 for frontline reporting on war and conflicts. He fled Myanmar after the military regime issued an arrest warrant for him on 5 April. Among other things, he exposed instances of targeted disinformation by the military when it seized control of the country on 1 February. He is currently seeking asylum in Madrid, Spain.

This episode was recorded on 25 March 2022.

Episode 7

Local Democracy - A Feasible Alternative to Top-Down Governing?

Democracy is one of the most used buzzwords when it comes to Myanmar. In episode 7 of "Myanmar in a Podshell", we don't talk primarily about democracy as a form of governing or as a buzzword, but about concrete democracy or democratic structures and practices at the community level in Myanmar. In other words, we want to understand what people in Myanmar actually make of the concept of democracy.


Tamas Wells who is the coordinator of the Myanmar Research Network at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on contested meanings of democracy, human rights and accountability in Southeast Asia, and impact on development policy.

His first book Narrating Democracy in Myanmar examines activists, aid workers and political party leaders in the lead up to the historic 2015 elections. It reveals diverging narratives of democracy within the opposition movement, and amongst its interna-tional supporters.

Before entering academia, Tamas worked as an aid and development adviser and consultant with various NGOs including Save the Children, with seven years living and working in Myanmar.

Sam Sai Kham is a PhD researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. His research focuses on land politics, rural democratization and regime transition. He grew up in Shan state, the northern rural borderland of Myanmar.

Over 20 years, he worked with different local non-profit organizations in Myanmar, working on various community development and humanitarian issues (including supporting the internally displaced people over 10 years in the frontlines of the Kachin conflict).

This episode was recorded on 04 February 2022.

Episode 6

Generation Z - Inventing a New Myanmar?

A lot has been written about Generation Z in connection with the coup in Myanmar. Obviously, it is a driving force in the fight against the military regime. But who or what is Generation Z in Myanmar? We talk to a member of Generation Z and an observer close to it to find out more in episode 6 of "Myanmar in a Podshell".


Nyein Chan May is co-founder and elected member of board of German Solidarity with Myanmar Democracy organization. She studies Political Science and Sociology in Germany. Before she came to Germany, she was a student activist.

Nickey Diamond is a Ph.D. candidate at the Working Group "Social and Political Anthropology" of Prof. Dr. Judith Beyer at Konstanz University. He is also a human rights defender and scholar-activist from Myanmar.

This episode was recorded on 23 January 2022.

Episode 5

Is Myanmar on its own again?
The International Dimension of the Coup d'État

One year after the coup d'état on February 1, 2021, there hasn't been a coordinated response by ASEAN or the UN. Different countries continue to pursue different interests. Saw Kapi and Hunter Marston discuss these interests and what they mean for Myanmar in episode 5 of "Myanmar in a Podshell".

Note: In the beginning the podcast a publication by Bilahari Kausikan is mentioned: Hun Sen was right to have visited Myanmar.


Saw Kapi earned his B.A. in International Relations from San Francisco State University, and holds an M.A. in Development Economics from Williams College. Saw Kapi is the Founding Director of the Salween Institute for Public Policy. He previously served as the Executive Director of Thabyay Education Foundation. Shortly after the opening of Myanmar he returned to his home country but had to leave again due to the coup.

Hunter Marston is a doctoral candidate in International Relations at the Australian National University, where he focuses on great power competition in Southeast Asia and small states' hedging strategies. He has written dozens of journal articles and opinion essays on Myanmar and Southeast Asia in publications including Contemporary Southeast Asia, Asian Journal of Political Science, the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and the Nikkei Asian Review.

Recent and forthcoming publications by Hunter Marston:

This episode was recorded on 19 January 2022.

Episode 4

Education in the Times of Uprising


Marie Lall is chair in Education and South Asian Studies at the UCL Institute of Education and former UCL Pro-Vice-Provost for South Asia (including Myanmar). Her research focuses on the politics of South Asia including education as well as ethnicity, conflict, social exclusion, the formation of national identity, and the linkage between national identity, citizenship and education in India, Pakistan and Myanmar.
She has over 25 years of field experience and has been instrumental in providing thought leadership to development agencies, policy makers and governments in the region and internationally.

She is the author of Understanding Reform in Myanmar (Hurst 2016) and Myanmar's Education Reforms - a pathway to social justice? (UCL Press 2021) that can be downloaded for free here.

Khaing Phyu Htut has been active in Myanmar education sector for more than 20 years. She has worked in various roles at the Ministry of Education, the British Council and Department for International Development (DFID)/ Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). While she was with the Ministry of Education for 10 years as a University academic, she engaged in teacher training, curriculum development, assessment, research, and coordination between student and teacher bodies in addition to core academic responsibilities.
In her non-governmental roles, she has led and facilitated various aid projects at national scale, education system reform support together with development partners, and teacher capacity building for both state and non-state sectors. She actively participates in education research and presented numerous times at in-country, regional and global events. Her research and academic publications focus on educational leadership, continuous professional development for teachers, and monitoring and evaluation of education aid.

This episode was recorded on 25 November 2021.

Episode 3

Democracy - Myanmar's Endless Struggle


Marco Bünte is Professor of Asian politics at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. He is specialised in issues of democracy and authoritarianism with a regional focus on Southeast Asia, here particularly the developments in Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar.

Selected Publications:

Richard Takhun is a PhD Candidate at the department of Asia Studies of the Rheinische-Friedrich Wilhelms University of Bonn. He is a political activist, used to live in Mandalay, Myanmar until very recently. He holds a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration and a Masters of Economics.

This episode was recorded on 19 November 2021.

Episode 2

Many third forces – The role of Myanmar's Ethnic Armed Organizations


Sai Khuensai is a veteran of politics in Myanmar. He has fought the Burmese army as a rebel from 1969 to 1996, he was editor in chief of the Shan Herald Agency for News, and is member of the Peace Process Steering Committee today.

Ashley South has 20 years experience as an independent author, researcher and consultant. He has worked closely with a number of ethnic stakeholders in Burma/Myanmar, including Ethnic Armed Organizations, Civil Society Actors and Political Parties. Ashley's interests include: ethnic conflict and peace processes in Burma/Myanmar and Mindanao; forced migration (refugees and internally displaced people); politics of language and education; climate change - mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

This episode was recorded on 22 October 2021.

Episode 1

Myanmar without Aung San Suu Kyi


Mon Mon Myat is an independent writer and journalist from Myanmar. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the Peacebuilding Program at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Michal Lubina is Associate Professor at the Institute of Middle and Far Eastern Studies of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. He has written extensively on Myanmar. His latest book "A Political Biography of Aung San Suu Kyi. A Hybrid Politician" was published in 2020.

This episode was recorded on 12 September 2021.

The Team

hans-berndHans-Bernd Zöllner is a theologian who worked as a Protestant minister in Thailand for seven years and visited Burma for the first time in 1984. From the 1990s on, he started to to research on the country’s history, politics and the relations between Burma/Myanmar and the world – and vice versa. He is particularly interested in the history of political ideas in Theravada Buddhist countries.

timTim Schröder is Head of Program at Covenant Institute. During the last decade, he has been involved in the Myanmar peace process, especially contributing to a better understanding of Ethnic Armed Organizations and their governance and service delivery systems. He has advised international development partners on peace & conflict issues as well as conflict-sensitive program management.

rodionRodion Ebbighausen is managing editor of the Asia department of Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. His journalistic and academic work focuses on Southeast Asia, particularly Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

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Arakan Army
Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw
Ethnic Armed Organizations
Internally Displaced Person
Kachin Independence Organization/ Army
Karenni National Democratic Party/Army
Kachin National Organisation
Karen National Union
Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team
National Defence and Security Council
National League for Democracy
New Mon State Party
National Unity Government
National Unity Consultative Council
People's Defence Force
Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army
Union Solidarity and Development Party
United Wa State Army/ Party
Wa National Organization/ Army

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