The Ethnography of Vietnam's Central Highlanders: A Historical Contextualization, 1850-1990

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University of Hawaii Press, 2003 - Social Science - 383 pages
This book looks at the multiple relations between the ethnographic representations of the Montagnard ethnic groups in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and the changing historical context in and for which the ethnographies were produced and in which they were consumed. There are two major arguments developed by the author. It is maintained that economic, political, and military interests within a specific historical context condition ethnographic practice. This is not however a one-way process: the author also argues that the ensuing ethnographic discourses in turn influence the historical context by suggesting and facilitating ethnic policies and by contributing to the formation or change of ethnic identities through processes of classification. Ethnographic knowledge is not simply a more or less accurate reflection of indigenous society. Ethnography is a textual representation of a particular society constructed by outsiders, conditioned by their interaction with informants and by differing interests that influence ethnographic practice. Changing circumstances mean there is a constant reconstruction of ethnographic knowledge. Oscar Salemink describes ethnographic discourses concerning the indigenous population of Vietnam's Central Highlands during periods of Christianization, colonization, war, and socialist transformation, and analyzes these in their relation to tribal, ethnic, territorial, governmental, and gendered discourses. Salemink's book is a timely contribution to anthropological knowledge, as ethnic minorities in Vietnam have again been the object of fierce academic debate. It is a historically grounded post-colonial critique relevant to theories of ethnicity and thehistory of anthropology, and will be of interest to graduate students of anthropology and cultural studies, as well as Vietnam studies.

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Ethnography anthropology and colonial
The construction
Colonial administration and cultural
Multiple interpretations
Territorialization ethnicization
The role of anthropology
The King of Fire
French American and Vietnamese

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