Interfaces and the Politics of Humanitarianism: Kachin Internal Displacement at the China–Myanmar Border

Ho, E. L.-E.
Publication language
Date published
01 Sep 2018
Journal of Refugee Studies
Development & humanitarian aid, Forced displacement and migration
Myanmar, China

Studying interfaces directs attention to the processes through which an array of social actors and regimes come into a constellation of relations and create webs of connection that impact humanitarian intervention and the lives of displaced people. This article illuminates the politics of humanitarianism evinced during Kachin internal displacement at the China–Myanmar border. Since 2011, conflict between the Myanmar (Burma) military and Kachin separatists has precipitated internal displacement in northern Myanmar. Apart from the Kachin struggle for autonomy, a resource war is also fuelling the conflict. Many internally displaced people (IDPs) flock to the China–Myanmar border for safety, but those that try to cross the border into China are barred by the Chinese police. The interfaces examined here reveal the constraints posed during the delivery of humanitarian aid, but also signal the connections that bring displaced populations and an array of social groups together, while keeping in view the global power geometries through which such connections are forged.