What these four quite different books broadly share is a focus on the role of the state in Myanmar society. Current scholarship describes the authoritarian state in Myanmar, which has been controlled by the army since 1962, as either dominantly present or neglectfully absent. Censorship and the repression of autonomous spaces in society, on the one hand, and the failure of the state to enforce efficient health and environmental policies, on the other, are keywords in these works that illustrate the double-faced appearance of the state's existence and role in society.

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