My Story

Minglaba! Welcome to my website. I am now working as the Education Researcher and Regional Research Director at International Rescue Committee – Airbel Impact Lab. I received my Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in August 2023. My research interests lie in comparative political economy and conflict studies, with expertise in Southeast Asia and colonial contexts.

My research examines the key conditions that historically influenced state development, specifically how states allocate their resources for physical coercion and education provision under significant and chronic fiscal constraints. I do so within the historical context of colonial states (with a focus on British Burma), where such constraints were especially prevalent when compared to the contemporaneous European states. Through my research, I show that pre-colonial indigenous institutions, which were fundamental in shaping state-society relations, explain the spatial and temporal patterns of state violence and state involvement in education in colonial states. My policy research, including my work at the International Rescue Committee, investigates the impact of state policy on post-independence education outcomes in the Global South.

I am also developing a book project investigating the underrepresented yet important role indigenous society and its relationship with the state played in the long-run development of colonial and post-independence contexts, focusing on Burma/Myanmar.

My research is published or forthcoming at Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Education Review, International Journal of Educational Development, and International Journal of Educational Research, among other venues.

I received my undergraduate degree in economics and finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Before my graduate studies, I worked as a researcher at CUHK and contributed to education policy projects in Iraq, Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), and Syria.

Note/Historical Fun Fact: Recorded in the 1920s, my header video shows Burmese elephants hauling timber in Moulmein, a town in the southern part of British Burma. Timber was the key export of colonial Burma (along with rice), and elephants were instrumental in transporting the felled trees and logs. Because of this colonial legacy, Burma/Myanmar is home to the largest captive elephant population in the world, with more than 5,000 individuals. Check out here for the full video and here for the amazing conservation work being done by the Myanmar Timber Elephant Project.