Citizenship and Statelessness in and from Myanmar and Cambodia

Dr Nick Cheesman6, Dr Nyi Nyi Kyaw2, Dr Vanessa Lamb3, Mr Ashraful Azad4, Dr Sally Low5, Dr Christoph Sperfeldt1

1Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 2ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore, Singapore, 3University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 4UNSW, Sydney, Australia, 5Independent researcher, Melbourne, Australia, 6Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Chair: Dr Christoph Sperfeldt


Statelessness is a phenomenon that affects millions of people worldwide. Those who are not considered as nationals by any state face daily obstructions from lack of access to a range of social, political and economic rights. Around 40 per cent of the identified stateless population of the world live in the Asia Pacific region, and Southeast Asia harbours some of the largest stateless populations in Asia. Although statelessness may result from migration, many people on the move are already stateless before they even cross a border. The vast majority of those individuals belong to minorities. Whilst the case of the Rohingya and their mass expulsion from Myanmar have heighted global awareness, other less well-observed examples of entrenched exclusion of minorities exist in Asia, such as in Cambodia. In this panel – proposed as part of the “Law and Society in Asia” stream – four papers examine the law and politics of citizenship in Southeast Asia. In particular, the panel seeks to identify productive ways to frame, conceptualise and understand large-scale state-sponsored exclusion from citizenship and in situ statelessness at the intersection of nation-building, domestic politics, violent conflict and displacement.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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