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.