Dr Matthew Walton
Dr Matthew Walton
Matthew Walton is Aung San Suu Kyi Senior Research Fellow in Modern Burmese Studies at St Antony’s College. He directs the Programme on Modern Burmese Studies and is the convener of the Southeast Asia seminar series, both at St Antony’s. His research focuses on religion and politics in Southeast Asia, with a special emphasis on Buddhism in Myanmar. He was a senior policy consultant to The Elders on Myanmar issues until 2016 and regularly briefs diplomats and NGOs on politics and religion in Myanmar. Matt is also a co-founder of the Myanmar Media and Society (M.MAS) project, the Oxford-Myanmar Policy Brief Series, the Oxford-Myanmar blog Tea Circle, and the ASEAN Economic Integration Forum.
Matt’s book Buddhism, Politics and Political Thought in Myanmar (Cambridge University Press, 2016), explores Burmese Buddhist political thought and its influence on Myanmar’s current democratic transition. His next project is a study of traditions of Buddhist political thought across Theravada South and Southeast Asia, entitled Buddhism and Political Thought: Organisation and Participation in the Theravada Moral Universe (forthcoming with Hurst Publishers). He has published articles on religion, politics, and ethnic conflict in Myanmar in Politics & Religion, Journal of Burma Studies, Asian Survey, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Journal of Contemporary Buddhism, Review of Faith and International Affairs, and Social Research. His full CV and additional publications can be found here.
Matt is the P-I for an ESRC-funded project entitled “Understanding ‘Buddhist Nationalism’ in Myanmar: Religion, Gender, Identity, and Conflict in a Political Transition.” Among the project’s outputs will be a database of monastic sermons and translations and analysis of the writings of groups such as Ma Ba Tha (The Organisation for the Protection of Race and Religion). This project builds on his previous work in this area, including a monograph on Buddhist-Muslim conflict in Myanmar, entitled “Contesting Buddhist Narratives: Democratization, Nationalism, and Communal Violence in Myanmar” (co-authored with Susan Hayward), that was published in the East-West Center’s Policy Studies Series in 2014.
Matt has also written book chapters on Buddhism and democracy, Myanmar’s political transition, disaster relief practices in Myanmar, Buddhist theories of animal rights, and radical environmental politics. In addition to his academic writing, he occasionally publishes commentary on religion and politics in Myanmar in the news media, including The Diplomat, East Asia Forum, Asia Times Online, New Mandala, The Myanmar Times, Shan Herald Agency News, and ISLAMiCommentary.
Before coming to St Antony's, Matt was an adjunct professor in the political science department at George Washington University. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Washington and holds M.A. degrees in Political Science from the University of Washington and Syracuse University and a B.Mus with Honors in Music Composition, also from Syracuse University. Matt remains an active composer and his most recent opera is Sun Dance, based on the trial and incarceration of Native American political prisoner Leonard Peltier.
Matt is the Director of the Asian Studies Centre and a co-editor of the Palgrave Macmillan-St Antony’s book series.