Dr David Brenner

Research Interests

David's research explores issues of conflict, security and development. He has extensive field work experience in conflict and post-conflict environments. Based on ethnographic research on the Kachin and Karen rebellions in Myanmar (Burma), his doctoral thesis analysed how rebel leaders capture and lose authority within their own movements and the ways in which these internal contestations drive wider processes of conflict and peace against the background of geopolitical transformations in the country's borderlands to China and Thailand. His current research interests include the politics of non-state armed groups, social dynamics of insurgency and political violence, ethno-nationalism and ethnic conflict, (non-)state formation in contested borderlands, and revolutionary art forms. 

Research Collaborations

David currently collaborates with 

  • the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) in Sussex on a DfID-funded project on social and political action in conflict-affected and fragile settings
  • the Oxford Changing Character of War Programme at the University of Oxford on the ESRC/AHRC-funded Changing Character of Conflict Platform


Postgraduate modules: POLM015 Key Issues in International Politics, POLM020 International Intervention and POLM023 Conflict and Peace Studies 

Undergraduate module: POL2036 Security Studies 

David previously taught at the LSE.

Departmental Duties

Research seminars and public events, Incite student journal liaison 


Associate Fellow at the Global South Unit, London School of Economics (LSE). 

Invited Talks

'The Biopolitics of Ethnonationalism: Drugs, Vigilantes and Communal Conflict in Myanmar,' presentation at IDS Conversations about Conflict and Violence, November 2017

'Armed movements, fragmentation and conflict in Myanmar,' presentation at discussion meeting at the Institute for International Strategic Studies (IISS), November 2017

'Armed Groups in Society,' presentation at a public panel on 'Armed Groups, State and Society in Myanmar' at LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre, October 2017

'Understanding Change in Conflict: Perceptions and Experiences,' presentation at the inception workshop of the 'The Changing Character of Conflict Platform' at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, May 2017

'Growing Ethnonationalism(s) and Inter-Minority Conflict' as part of a public panel on 'Myanmar's NLD-led Government: one year on' at LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre, March 2017

‘Democratisation and the Fragmentation of Violence in Myanmar’ at Torino World Affairs Institute, October 2016

‘Comparing Insurgent Borderlands’ at ‘Frontiers, States and Conflict in Asia’ at SOAS, June 2016

‘De-peripheralising Borderlands: Between State Consolidation, Commercialisation and Conflict in Myanmar’ at Department of Geography, University of Zurich, June 2016

‘Prospects of Burma’s Continued Democratic Transition,’ Analytical exchange with U.S. Department of State, Washington DC, May 2016

Selected Conference Papers

'Beyond Insurgency: Drugs, Vigilantes and the Biopolitics of Ethnonationalism in Myanmar,' presentation at Conflict Research Society Annual Conference, University of Oxford, September 2017

'Between Commercialisation and Conflict in Myanmar's Borderlands' at Prince of Songkla University, Pattani, Thailand, January 2017

‘Performing Rebellion: Karaoke and Propaganda in the Kachin Insurgency’ at ‘Visual International Politics: Theories, Methods and Institutions’ at LSE, June 2016

‘Insurgency as a Social Process: Authority and Armed Groups in Myanmar’ at International Studies Association Annual Convention, Atlanta, March 2016 (panel organised)

 ‘Elite-Grassroots Relations in the Power Struggles within Myanmar’s Insurgencies’ at Conflict Research Society Annual Conference, University of Kent, September 2015

‘Legitimacy in Conflict: Transitions in the KNU and the KIO’ at ‘Myanmar’s “Borderlands”: Reforms, Conflict, Geopolitics,’ April 2015, LSE (conference organised)

‘From Battlefield to Marketplace? Border Economies, Economic Counterinsurgency, and the Internal Politics of Armed Groups in Myanmar (Burma)’ at International Studies Association Annual Convention, February 2015, New Orleans

‘From Rebels to Businessmen and Back. Changing border economies and the Internal Politics of Armed Groups in Myanmar/Burma’ at Conflict Research Society Annual Conference, Leeds, September 2014

Contact Me

Phone: 01483 68 3589

Find me on campus
Room: 16 AC 05

My office hours

Tuesdays 14:30-16:30 and Thursdays 14:30-15:30


Peer-reviewed journal articles

Brenner, David (2017). Authority in Rebel Groups: Identity, Recognition and the Struggle over Legitimacy. In Contemporary Politics, E-pub ahead of print, 1-19. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13569775.2017.1324235

Brenner, David (2017). Inside the Karen Insurgency: Explaining conflict and conciliation in Myanmar's changing borderlands. In Asian Security, E-pub ahead of print, 1–33. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14799855.2017.1293657

Brenner, David (2015). Ashes of Co-optation: Armed Group Fragmentation and the Rebuilding of Popular Insurgency in Myanmar. In Conflict, Security, and Development, 15(4). http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14678802.2015.1071974

Brenner, David (2012). Are Chinese NGOs ‘going-out’? Chinese NGOs and GONGOs in Sino-African relations. In Journal of Public and International Affairs, 23. http://jpia.princeton.edu/sites/jpia/files/2012.pdf


Other academic publications

Brenner, David (2017). The Development-Insecurity Nexus: Geo-economic Transformations and Violence in Myanmar. In LSE Global South Unit, Working Paper No. 1/2017. 

Brenner, David (2017). Authority and Contestation inside Rebel Groups: Insights from Myanmar. In Political Violence @ a Glance, 21 June. http://politicalviolenceataglance.org/2017/06/21/authority-and-contestation-inside-rebel-groups-insights-from-myanmar/

Brenner, David (2017). The roots of KNU power struggles. In New Mandala - New Perspectives on Southeast Asia, 10 May. http://www.newmandala.org/knu-ceasefire-contestation-beneath-myanmars-peace-process/

Brenner, David (2015). The Breakdown of the Kachin Ceasefire and its Implications for Peace in Myanmar. In ISN Blog, ETH Zürich, 10 August. http://isnblog.ethz.ch/conflict/the-breakdown-of-the-kachin-ceasefire-and-its-implications-for-peace-in-myanmar

Brenner, David (2014). Battlefield to marketplace and back. Peace in Burma is hampered by an economic logic of limited use. In Himal Southasian, 27 (3).republished in English and German with the Heinrich Boell Foundation http://www.boell.de/en/2015/03/10/battlefield-marketplace-and-back

Brenner, David (2014). Burma (Myanmar): Exploring the frontiers of Southeast Asia's last frontier economy. In South Asia @ LSE, 24 February. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/indiaatlse/2014/02/24/burma-myanmar-exploring-the-frontiers-of-southeast-asias-last-frontier-economy/.

Brenner, David (2009) Sudan (LRA-SPLA/M), Sudan (SPLA/M-South Sudan) & Sudan (various ethnic groups). In Conflict Barometer 2009. 18th annual conflict analysis. Edited by Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research.

Brenner, David (2008) Tanzania (CUF/Zanzibar). In Conflict Barometer 2008. 17th annual conflict analysis. Edited by Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research.


Media articles and commentaries

Brenner, David. Rohingya "terrorists" and the hierarchies of legitimate resistance in Myanmar. In Political Violence @ a Glance, 05/09/2017. https://politicalviolenceataglance.org/2017/09/05/rohingya-terrorists-and-the-hierarchies-of-legitimate-resistance-in-myanmar/.

Brenner, David. When Buddhist Monks Wield Kalashnikovs: In Burma an ultranationalist militia is training to “defend the fatherland” against Rohingya Muslims. In Foreign Policy, 02/07/2014. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/07/02/when_buddhist_monks_wield_kalashnikovs.

Brenner, David. Washington's Flawed Myanmar Policy: Many of Myanmar's ethnic minorities are growing increasingly disillusioned with America and may turn to China instead. In The Diplomat, 27/04/2014. http://thediplomat.com/2014/04/washingtons-flawed-myanmar-policy/.

Brenner, David. The Tatmadaw's Divide-and-Rule Strategy in Myanmar: Who is the ultimate target of the ongoing armed conflict? In The Diplomat, 17/03/2014. http://thediplomat.com/2014/03/the-tatmadaws-divide-and-rule-tactics-in-myanmar/.

Brenner, David. The Pitfalls of Economic Counterinsurgency Strategies in Myanmar. In Foreign Policy Journal, 11/02/2014. http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2014/02/11/the-pitfalls-of-economic-counterinsurgency-strategies-in-myanmar/.

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