Dr David Brenner

Staff details

Position Lecturer in International Relations
Email d.brenner (@gold.ac.uk)
Dr David Brenner

David is interested in the politics of conflict, security and development. His work explores the socio-political orders that emerge in contexts of protracted armed conflict and highlights the social foundations and everyday practices of political violence. It is informed by long-term research in the restive borderlands between Myanmar, China, India and Thailand and sheds light on the politics of rebel movements, (non-)state formation, ethnic conflict, and the cultural politics of domination and resistance.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in International Relations (London School of Economics), 2016
  • MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), 2012
  • BSc in Geography and Politics (University of Heidelberg), 2010

Teaching and Supervision

Research interests

David is author of Rebel Politics: A Political Sociology of Armed Struggle in Myanmar’s Borderlands (Cornell University Press, 2019). Based on long-term research inside the Kachin and Karen rebellions, the monograph analyses the relations between rebel leaders, their rank-and-file, and local communities in the context of political and geopolitical transformations in Myanmar. Using ethnographic methods and social theory, Rebel Politics provides an insight into the hidden social dynamics of ethnic conflict, rebel governance and borderland politics. In doing so, the book explains how revolutionary elites capture and lose legitimacy within their own movements and how the internal politics of rebel movements drive wider dynamics of war and peace.

David currently works on several collaborative research projects. He is PI on a GCRF-funded project that investigates the impact of rapid economic development on ethnic conflict in Myanmar’s borderlands; and CI on an AHRC-funded project exploring the politics of non-state education systems in Myanmar’s conflict zones. David also collaborates with colleagues at the LSE and the University of Hong Kong on researching the foreign affairs of rebel groups and the sociology of knowledge in the field of conflict and security studies. He is affiliated as an associate fellow at the Global South Unit in the International Relations Department of the London School of Economics, where he did his doctoral studies.

David also seeks to further the development of critical methods in conflict and security studies, drawing on audio-visual artefacts and using photography in his research. He organised the exhibition "A View from the Border", portraying everyday life in rebel-held territories of northern Myanmar with two Kachin photojournalists Hkun Li and Hkun Lat. His photograph "When War Becomes Reality" won the LSE Research Festival photography category in 2016.



Brenner, David. 2019. Rebel Politics: A Political Sociology of Armed Struggle in Myanmar's Borderlands. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 9781501740091


Brenner, David and Schulman, Sarah. 2019. Myanmar’s Top-Down Transition: Challenges for Civil Society. IDS Bulletin, 50(3), pp. 17-36. ISSN 0265-5012

Brenner, David. 2018. Performing Rebellion: Karaoke as a Lens into Political Violence. International Political Sociology, 12(4), pp. 401-417. ISSN 1749-5679

Brenner, David. 2018. Inside the Karen Insurgency: Explaining Conflict and Conciliation in Myanmar’s Changing Borderlands. Asian Security, 14(2), pp. 83-99. ISSN 1479-9855

Brenner, David. 2017. Myanmar's Ethnic Minorities: Losing Faith in Federalism and Peace. RISE, 2(3), pp. 14-15.

Brenner, David. 2017. Authority in rebel groups: identity, recognition and the struggle over legitimacy. Contemporary Politics, 23(4), pp. 408-426. ISSN 1356-9775

Brenner, David. 2017. Book review: Stefano Ruzza, Anja P. Jakobi, Charles Geisler (eds.), Non-State Challenges in a Re-Ordered World: The Jackals of Westphalia. European Review of International Studies, pp. 127-129. ISSN 2196-6923

Brenner, David. 2017. The Development-Insecurity Nexus: Geo-economic Transformations and Violence in Myanmar. LSE Global South Unit Working Paper Series. Working Paper No 1 2017, ISSN 2057-1461

Brenner, David. 2015. Ashes of co-optation: from armed group fragmentation to the rebuilding of popular insurgency in Myanmar. Conflict, Security & Development, 15(4), pp. 337-358. ISSN 1467-8802

Brenner, David. 2014. Battlefield to Marketplace and Back. Himal Southasian, 27(3), pp. 82-93. ISSN 1012-9804

Brenner, David. 2014. When Buddhist Monks Wield Kalashnikovs. Foreign Policy, ISSN 0015-7228

Brenner, David. 2012. Are Chinese NGOs "Going Out"? The Role of Chinese NGOs and GONGOs in Sino-African Relations. Journal of Public and International Affairs, 22, pp. 131-152. ISSN 1070-521X

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