Mien Relations: Mountain People and State Control in Thailand
Thailand's hill tribes have been the object of anthropological research, cultural tourism, and government intervention for a century, in large part because these groups are held to have preserved distinctive ethnic traditions despite their contacts with "modern" culture. Hjorleifur Jonsson rejects the conventional notion that the worlds of traditional peoples are being transformed or undone by the forces of modernity. Among the Mien people of northern Thailand he finds a complex highlander identity that has been shaped by a thousand years of interaction in a multiethnic contact zone. In Mien Relations, Jonsson suggests that as early as the thirteenth century, the growing influence of Chinese and Thai state authority had led to a peculiarly urban understanding of the hinterlands—the forests and the mountains—as an area beyond state control and the rhetoric of civilization. Mountain peoples became understood as a distinct social type, an idea elaborated by government classification systems in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Their "discovery" by Western anthropologists is, he suggests, merely one more episode influencing Mien identity. Jonsson questions traditional ethnography's focus on fieldwork and personal observation—and its concomitant blindness to political manipulation and to historical formation. Throughout Mien Relations, he revisits long-neglected connections between China and Southeast Asia, combines ancient history and contemporary ethnography, engages with the serious politics of representation without abandoning the quest to write ethnographically about particular communities, and keeps state control in view without assuming its success or coherence.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Other editions - View all
agency ancestor spirits authorities Baht Bangkok Buddhist Bunchuai chao khao Chiangmai Chiangrai Province China Chinese colonial concerned context contracts culture dance defined display domain dynamics Emperor Ping ethnic group ethnic identity ethnic minority ethnographic event farming forest framework headman hill tribes hinterland Hmong household Huai Kok imagery IMPECT Iu Mien kamnan Kandre Karen Kia Shen Pong king land Lanna Laos Lawa leaders Lisu live livelihood lowland rulers Luang migration Miiang modern mountain museum Nan Province nation-state national integration northern Thai northern Thailand official opium Pangkha Pangkhwai particular Phachangnoi Phayao Province Phulangka police political population practice prominence rank region relations rice ritual road royal Sao Saimong settlements Shan shift social landscape Southeast Asia spirit money state's status stories structures suggests tambol Thai nation Thai society Thao tion Tribal Research tributary tribute Tsan Khwoen upland various village Wildlife Sanctuary