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Southeast Asian Massif

The term Southeast Asian Massif was proposed in 1997 by anthropologist Jean Michaud to discuss the human societies inhabiting the lands above approximately 300 metres (1,000 ft) in the southeastern portion of the Asian landmass, thus not merely in the uplands of conventional Mainland Southeast Asia. It concerns highlands overlapping parts of 10 countries: southwest China, Northeast India, eastern Bangladesh, and all the highlands of Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia, and Taiwan. The indigenous population encompassed within these limits numbers approximately 100 million, not counting migrants from surrounding lowland majority groups who came to settle in the highlands over the last few centuries.

The notion of the Southeast Asian Massif overlaps geographically with the eastern segment of Van Schendel's notion of Zomia proposed in 2002, while it overlaps geographically with what political scientist James C. Scott called Zomia in 2009. While the notion of Zomia underscores a historical and political understanding of that high region, the Southeast Asia Massif is more appropriately labelled a place or a social space.

As the notion refers first to peoples and cultures, it is neither realistic nor helpful to define the area precisely in terms of altitude, latitude and longitude, with definite outside limits and set internal subdivisions. Broadly speaking, however, at their maximum extension, these highland groups have historically been scattered over a domain mostly situated above an elevation of about three hundred meters, within an area approximately the size of Western Europe. Stretching from the temperate Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) which roughly demarcates the northern boundary, it moves south to encompass the high ranges extending east and south from the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, and the monsoon high country drained by the basins of the lower Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween, Chao Phraya, Mekong, Song Hong (Red River), and Zhu Jiang (Pearl River).

In China, the Massif includes extreme eastern Tibet, southern and western Sichuan, western Hunan, a small portion of western Guangdong, all of Guizhou and Yunnan, with north and west Guangxi. Spilling over the Southeast Asian peninsula, it covers most of the border areas of Burma with adjacent segments of northeastern India (Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland with portions of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam) and southeastern Bangladesh, the north and west of Thailand, all of Laos above the Mekong valley, borderlands in northern and central Vietnam along the Annamite Cordillera, and the northeastern fringes of Cambodia.

Beyond the northern limit of the Massif, the Chongqing basin is not included because it has been colonised by the Han for over one millennium, and the massive influx of population into this fertile rice bowl of China has spilled well into parts of central and western Sichuan above 500 metres. The same observation applies to highlands further north in Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. At the southern extreme, highland peninsular Malaysia should be excluded as it is disconnected from the Massif by the Isthmus of Kra, and is intimately associated with the Malay world instead. That said, many of the indigenous highland populations of peninsular Malaysia, the Orang Asli, are Austroasiatic by language, and thus linked to groups in the Massif such as the Wa, the Khmu, the Katu, or the Bahnar.

The Tibetan world is not included in the Massif, as it has its own logic: a centralized and religiously harmonised core with a long, distinctive political existence that places it in a "feudal" and imperial category, which the societies historically associated with the Massif have rarely, if ever, developed into. In this sense, the western limit of the Massif, then, is as much a historical and political one as it is linguistic, cultural, and religious. Again, this should not be seen as clear-cut. Many societies on Tibet's periphery, such as the Khampa, Naxi, Drung or Mosuo in Yunnan, the Lopa in Nepal, or the Bhutia in Sikkim, have switched allegiances repeatedly over the centuries, moving in and out of Lhasa's orbit. Moreover, the Tibeto-Burman language family and Tibetan Buddhism have spilled over the eastern edge of the plateau.

To further qualify the particularities of the Massif, a series of core factors can be incorporated: history, languages, religion, customary social structures, economies, and political relationships with lowland states. What distinguishes highland societies may exceed what they have in common: a vast ecosystem, a state of marginality, and forms of subordination. The Massif is crossed by six major language families, none of which form a decisive majority. In religious terms, several groups are Animist, others are Buddhist, some are Christian, a good number share Taoist and Confucian values, the Hui are Muslim, while most societies sport a complex syncretism. Throughout history, feuds and frequent hostilities between local groups were evidence of the plurality of cultures. The region has never been united politically, not as an empire, nor as a space shared among a few feuding kingdoms, not even as a zone with harmonised political systems. Forms of distinct customary political organisations, chiefly lineage based versus "feudal", have long existed. At the national level today, political regimes in countries sharing the region (democracies, three socialist governments, one constitutional monarchy, and one military dictatorship) simply magnify this ancient political diversity.

Along with other transnational highlands around the Himalayas and around the world, the Southeast Asian Massif is marginal and fragmented in historical, economic, as well as cultural terms. It may thus be seen as lacking the necessary significance in the larger scheme of things to be proposed as a promising area subdivision of Asian studies. However, it is important to rethink country based research when addressing trans-border and marginal societies.

Inquiries on the ground throughout the Massif show that these peoples share a sense of being different from the national majorities, a sense of geographical remoteness, and a state of marginality that is connected to political and economic distance from regional seats of power. In cultural terms, these highland societies are like a cultural mosaic with contrasting colours, rather than an integrated picture in harmonized shades – what Terry Rambo, talking from a Vietnam perspective, has dubbed "a psychedelic nightmare". Yet, when observed from the necessary distance, that mosaic can form a distinctive and significant picture, even if an imprecise one at times.

Historically, these highlands have been used by lowland empires as reserves of resources (including slaves), and as buffer spaces between their domains.

Zomia is a geographical term coined in 2002 by historian Willem van Schendel of the University of Amsterdam to refer to the huge mass of mainland Southeast Asia that has historically been beyond the control of governments based in the population centers of the lowlands. It largely overlaps with the geographical extent of the Southeast Asian Massif, although the exact boundaries of Zomia differ among scholars: all would include the highlands of north Indochina (north Vietnam and all Laos), Thailand, the Shan Hills of northern Myanmar, and the mountains of Southwest China; some extend the region as far west as Tibet, Northeast India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. These areas share a common elevated, rugged terrain, and have been the home of ethnic minorities that have preserved their local cultures by residing far from state control and influence. Other scholars have used the term to discuss the similar ways that Southeast Asian governments have handled minority groups.

Zomia covers more than 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) over the Southeast Asian Massif and comprises nearly one hundred million marginal people. This large area is inside the fringe of eight states and the entirety of one, stretching across the standard regional designations (South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia). Along with its ecological diversity and its relation to states, it arouses a lot of interest. It stands for an original entity of study, a type of international appellation, and a different way in which to study regions.

In 2009, political scientist James Scott argued that there is a unity across the Massif – which he calls Zomia – regarding political forms of domination and subordination, which bonds the fates of the peoples dwelling there, virtually all of whom had taken refuge there to avoid being integrated into a more powerful state, or even allowing the very appearance of a state-like structure within their own societies. This argument had also been made, in a slightly different manner, by Dutch social scientist Willem van Schendel in 2002. Van Schendel had coined the term Zomia, but its geographic coverage differs significantly from Scott's.

Etymology

The name is from Zomi, a term for highlander common to several related Tibeto-Burman languages spoken in the India-Bangladesh-Burma border area.

James C. Scott

Professor James C. Scott of Yale University used the concept of Zomia in his 2009 book The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia to argue that the continuity of the ethnic cultures living there provides a counter-narrative to the traditional story about modernity: namely, that once people are exposed to the conveniences of modern technology and the modern state, they will assimilate. Rather, the tribes in Zomia are conscious refugees from state rule and state-centered economies. From his preface:

[Hill tribes] seen from the valley kingdoms as 'our living ancestors,' 'what we were like before we discovered wet-rice cultivation, Buddhism, and civilization' [are on the contrary] best understood as runaway, fugitive, maroon communities who have, over the course of two millennia, been fleeing the oppressions of state-making projects in the valleys — slavery, conscription, taxes, corvée labor, epidemics, and warfare.

Scott goes on to add that Zomia is the biggest remaining area of earth whose inhabitants have not been completely absorbed by nation-states, although that time is coming to an end. While Zomia is exceptionally diverse linguistically, the languages spoken in the hills are distinct from those spoken in the plains. Kinship structures, at least formally, also distinguish the hills from the lowlands. Hill societies do produce "a surplus", but they do not use that surplus to support kings and monks. Distinctions of status and wealth abound in the hills, as in the valleys. The difference is that in the valleys they tend to be enduring, while in the hills they are both unstable and geographically confined.

Differing perspectives

Jean Michaud explains the many dilemmas that arise from the language used to address the group of people residing in Zomia in his Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif. The people of Zomia are often referred to as "national minority groups," and Michaud argues that contention arises with each of these words. In regards to the word "national," Michaud claims that the peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif are in fact transnational, as many groups span over several countries. According to Michaud, "minority" is not the legitimate way to label the group either, since the populations are so vast. Michaud even claims that the word "group" is problematic because of its connotation with community and “social cohesion” that not all groups share.

In 2010, the Journal of Global History published a special issue, "Zomia and Beyond". In this issue, contemporary historians and social scientists of Southeast Asia respond to Scott's arguments. For example, although Southeast Asian expert Victor Lieberman agrees that the highland people crafted their own social worlds in response to the political and natural environments that they encountered, he also finds Scott's documentation to be very weak, especially its lack of Burmese-language sources, saying that not only does this undermine several of Scott's key arguments, but it brings some of his other theories about Zomia into question.

Furthermore, Lieberman argues that Scott is overestimating the importance of manpower as a determinant in military success. While the bulk of Scott's argument rests on the efforts of lowland states to dominate the highlands, Lieberman shows the importance of maritime commerce as an equally contributing factor.

Lieberman also says that examples not included in Scott's analysis need to be taken into consideration. Scott firmly believes that the culture took shape as a defensive mechanism, as a reaction to surrounding political and social environments. Lieberman, however, argues that the highland peoples of Borneo/Kalimantan had virtually the same cultural characteristics as the Zomians, such as the proliferation of local languages and swidden cultivation, which were all developed without a lowland predatory state.

More recently, Scott's claims have been questioned by Tom Brass. Brass maintains that it is incorrect to characterize upland Southeast Asia as "state-repelling" "zones of refuge/asylum" to which people voluntarily migrate. This is, he argues, an idealization consistent with the "new" populist postmodernism, but not supported by ethnographic evidence. The latter suggests that populations neither choose to migrate to upland areas (but go because they are forced off valley land), nor – once there – are they beyond the reach of the lowland State. Consequently, they are anything but empowered and safe in such contexts.

Edward Stringham and Caleb J. Miles analyzed historical and anthropological evidence from societies in Southeast Asia and concluded that they have avoided states for thousands of years. Stringham further analyzes the institutions used to avoid, repel and prevent would-be states. He further concludes that stateless societies like "Zomia" have successfully repelled states using location, specific production methods, and cultural resistance to states.

  1. Michaud, Jean; Meenaxi B. Ruscheweyh; Margaret B. Swain, 2016. Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif. Second Edition. Lanham • Boulder • New York • London, Rowman & Littlefield, 594p.
  2. Michaud J., 1997, "Economic transformation in a Hmong village of Thailand." Human Organization 56(2) : 222-232.
  3. Willem van Schendel, 'Geographies of knowing, geographies of ignorance: jumping scale in Southeast Asia', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 20, 6, 2002, pp. 647–68.
  4. James C. Scott, The art of not being governed: an anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.
  5. Michaud, J. 2010, Zomia and Beyond. Journal of Global History, 5(2): 205.
  6. Hall, A History of Southeast Asia. Tarling, The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia.
  7. Melvyn C. Goldstein, A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State. Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1989.
  8. Herman, Amid the Clouds and Mist. Robert D. Jenks, Insurgency and Social Disorder in Guizhou. The Miao Rebellion, 1854-1873. Honolulu (HA), U. of Hawaii Press, 1994. Claudine Lombard-Salmon, Un exemple d’acculturation chinoise : la province du Guizhou au XVIIIe siècle. Paris, Publication de l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient, vol. LXXXIV, 1972 .
  9. See Michaud J. , 2016 "Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Scale, Magnitude, and Range in the Southeast Asian Massif." Pp. 1-40 in Michaud, Jean; Meenaxi B. Ruscheweyh; and Margaret B. Swain, Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the South-East Asian Massif. Second Edition. Lanham • Boulder • New York • London: Rowman & Littlefield.
  10. A.T. Rambo, ‘Development Trends In Vietnam’s Northern Mountain Region’, In D. Donovan, A.T.Rambo, J. Fox And Le Trong Cuc (Eds.) Development Trends In Vietnam’s Northern Mountainous Region. Hanoi: National Political Publishing House, pp.5-52, 1997, p. 8.
  11. Lim, Territorial Power Domains. Andrew Walker, The Legend of the Golden Boat Regulation, Trade and Traders in the Borderlands of Laos, Thailand, China and Burma. Honolulu: U. of Hawaii Press, 1999.
  12. "Willem van Schendel". International Institute of Social History. RetrievedNovember 28, 2010.
  13. Kratoska, P. H.; Raben, R.; Nordholt, H. S., eds. (2005). Locating Southeast Asia: Geographies of Knowledge and Politics of Space. Singapore University Press. p. v. ISBN 9971-69-288-0.
  14. van Schendel, W. (2005). "Geographies of knowing, geographies of ignorance: Jumping scale in Southeast Asia". In Kratoska, P. H.; Raben, R.; Nordholt, H. S. (eds.). Locating Southeast Asia: Geographies of Knowledge and Politics of Space. Singapore University Press. ISBN 9971-69-288-0.
  15. Michaud 2010 Archived October 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  16. Michaud, J. (2009, February). "Handling Mountain Minorities in China, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos: From History to Current Concerns." Asian Ethnicity 10: 25–49.
  17. James C. Scott, The art of not being governed
  18. Willem van Schendel, ‘Geographies of knowing, geographies of ignorance
  19. Scott, James C. (2009). The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. Yale Agrarian Studies. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. pp. 14–16. ISBN 978-0-300-15228-9. Notes to pages 5 – 14: Other explicit proponents of a systematic view from the periphery include Michaud, Turbulent Times and Enduring Peoples, especially the Introduction by Michaud and John McKinnon, 1–25, and Hjorleifur Jonsson, Mien Relations: Mountain Peoples, Ethnography, and State Control (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005). F. K. L. Chit Hlaing [F. K. Lehman], “Some Remarks upon Ethnicity Theory and Southeast Asia, with Special Reference to the Kayah and Kachin,” in Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma, ed. Mikael Gravers (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2007), 107–22, esp. 109–10.
  20. In addition, he maintains that many traits that are viewed in mainstream cultures as "primitive" or "backward" and used to denigrate hill peoples are actually adaptations to avoid state incorporation, such as lack of a written language, shifting messianic religious movements, or nomadism. Their presence is absent from most histories, since, as Scott puts it, "it is the peasants' job to stay out of the archives." Nonetheless, in reality he sees the relationship between upland and lowland peoples as reciprocal, since upland peoples are essential as a source of trade. Scott, James C. (2009). The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. Yale Agrarian Studies. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. pp. 14–16. ISBN 978-0-300-15228-9. Notes to pages 5 – 14: Other explicit proponents of a systematic view from the periphery include Michaud, Turbulent Times and Enduring Peoples, especially the Introduction by Michaud and John McKinnon, 1–25; Turner, S., C. Bonnin and J. Michaud (2015) 'Frontier Livelihoods. Hmong in the Sino-Vietnamese Borderlands' (Seattle: University of Washington Press); and Hjorleifur Jonsson, Mien Relations: Mountain Peoples, Ethnography, and State Control (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005). F. K. L. Chit Hlaing [F. K. Lehman], “Some Remarks upon Ethnicity Theory and Southeast Asia, with Special Reference to the Kayah and Kachin,” in Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma, ed. Mikael Gravers (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2007), 107–22, esp. 109–10.
  21. "Jean Michaud, Ph. D., Anthropologist". Université Laval, Québec, Canada. RetrievedSeptember 22, 2011. Jean Michaud is a social anthropologist and specialises since 1988 on issues of social change among highland populations of Asia.
  22. Michaud, Jean (April 2006). "Introduction". Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif. Historical Dictionaries of Peoples and Cultures #4. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-8108-5466-6. RetrievedSeptember 8, 2011. For this dictionary, a compromise solution has been adopted, which was to accept official national ethnonyms but correct mistakes whenever possible and cross-reference to alternative names. Close to 200 ethnonyms thus have their own entries, which is the largest number the relatively humble format of this series allows.
  23. Michaud, Jean (2010). "Editorial – Zomia and beyond*". Journal of Global History 5, London School of Economics and Political Science. Université Laval. 5 (2): 187–214. doi:10.1017/S1740022810000057. This editorial develops two themes. First, it discusses how historical and anthropological approaches can relate to each other, in the field of the highland margins of Asia and beyond. Second, it explores how we might further our understandings of the uplands of Asia by applying different terms such as ‘Haute-Asie’, the ‘Southeast Asian Massif’, the ‘Hindu Kush–Himalayan region’, the 'Himalayan Massif', and in particular 'Zomia', a neologism gaining popularity with the publication of James C. Scott's latest book....
  24. Guest editor: Jean Michaud (2010). "Journal of Global History". Journal of Global History. Cambridge Journals Online. 5 (2). ISSN 1740-0228. RetrievedSeptember 7, 2011. Published for London School of Economics and Political Science
  25. "Victor B. Lieberman". Marvin B. Becker Collegiate Professor of Southeast Asia, pre-modern Burma, early modern world history. University of Michigan. RetrievedSeptember 7, 2011.
  26. Little, Daniel; Michael E. Smith; et al. (October 18, 2010). "Zomia reconsidered"(blogspot). web-based monograph. UnderstandingSociety. p. 1. RetrievedSeptember 7, 2011. [Lieberman's] most recent volumes, Strange Parallels: Volume 1, Integration on the Mainland: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c.800-1830 (v. 1) and Strange Parallels: Volume 2, Mainland Mirrors: Europe, Japan, China, South Asia, and the Islands: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c.800-1830, are directly relevant to Scott's analysis.
  27. Tom Brass (2012), "Scott's 'Zomia,' or a Populist Post-modern History of Nowhere", Journal of Contemporary Asia, 42:1, 123–33
  28. Stringham, Edward (2012). "Repelling States: Evidence from Upland Southeast Asia". Review of Austrian Economics. 25 (1): 17–33. doi:10.1007/s11138-010-0115-3. S2CID 144582680. SSRN1715223.

Southeast Asian Massif
Southeast Asian Massif Article Talk Language Watch Edit The term Southeast Asian Massif 1 was proposed in 1997 by anthropologist Jean Michaud 2 to discuss the human societies inhabiting the lands above approximately 300 metres 1 000 ft in the southeastern portion of the Asian landmass thus not merely in the uplands of conventional Mainland Southeast Asia It concerns highlands overlapping parts of 10 countries southwest China Northeast India eastern Bangladesh and all the highlands of Myanmar Burma Thailand Vietnam Laos Cambodia Peninsular Malaysia and Taiwan The indigenous population encompassed within these limits numbers approximately 100 million not counting migrants from surrounding lowland majority groups who came to settle in the highlands over the last few centuries The notion of the Southeast Asian Massif overlaps geographically with the eastern segment of Van Schendel s notion of Zomia proposed in 2002 3 while it overlaps geographically with what political scientist James C Scott called Zomia in 2009 4 While the notion of Zomia underscores a historical and political understanding of that high region the Southeast Asia Massif is more appropriately labelled a place or a social space Contents 1 Location 2 Historical linguistic and cultural factors 3 Zomia 3 1 Etymology 3 2 James C Scott 3 3 Differing perspectives 4 See also 5 References 6 External linksLocation EditAs the notion refers first to peoples and cultures it is neither realistic nor helpful to define the area precisely in terms of altitude latitude and longitude with definite outside limits and set internal subdivisions Broadly speaking however at their maximum extension these highland groups have historically been scattered over a domain mostly situated above an elevation of about three hundred meters within an area approximately the size of Western Europe Stretching from the temperate Chang Jiang Yangtze River which roughly demarcates the northern boundary it moves south to encompass the high ranges extending east and south from the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau and the monsoon high country drained by the basins of the lower Brahmaputra Irrawaddy Salween Chao Phraya Mekong Song Hong Red River and Zhu Jiang Pearl River In China the Massif includes extreme eastern Tibet southern and western Sichuan western Hunan a small portion of western Guangdong all of Guizhou and Yunnan with north and west Guangxi Spilling over the Southeast Asian peninsula it covers most of the border areas of Burma with adjacent segments of northeastern India Meghalaya Mizoram Manipur Nagaland with portions of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam and southeastern Bangladesh the north and west of Thailand all of Laos above the Mekong valley borderlands in northern and central Vietnam along the Annamite Cordillera and the northeastern fringes of Cambodia Beyond the northern limit of the Massif the Chongqing basin is not included because it has been colonised by the Han for over one millennium and the massive influx of population into this fertile rice bowl of China has spilled well into parts of central and western Sichuan above 500 metres The same observation applies to highlands further north in Gansu and Shaanxi provinces At the southern extreme highland peninsular Malaysia should be excluded as it is disconnected from the Massif by the Isthmus of Kra and is intimately associated with the Malay world instead 6 That said many of the indigenous highland populations of peninsular Malaysia the Orang Asli are Austroasiatic by language and thus linked to groups in the Massif such as the Wa the Khmu the Katu or the Bahnar The Tibetan world is not included in the Massif as it has its own logic a centralized and religiously harmonised core with a long distinctive political existence that places it in a feudal and imperial category which the societies historically associated with the Massif have rarely if ever developed into 7 In this sense the western limit of the Massif then is as much a historical and political one as it is linguistic cultural and religious Again this should not be seen as clear cut Many societies on Tibet s periphery such as the Khampa Naxi Drung or Mosuo in Yunnan the Lopa in Nepal or the Bhutia in Sikkim have switched allegiances repeatedly over the centuries moving in and out of Lhasa s orbit Moreover the Tibeto Burman language family and Tibetan Buddhism have spilled over the eastern edge of the plateau Historical linguistic and cultural factors EditTo further qualify the particularities of the Massif a series of core factors can be incorporated history languages religion customary social structures economies and political relationships with lowland states What distinguishes highland societies may exceed what they have in common a vast ecosystem a state of marginality and forms of subordination The Massif is crossed by six major language families none of which form a decisive majority In religious terms several groups are Animist others are Buddhist some are Christian a good number share Taoist and Confucian values the Hui are Muslim while most societies sport a complex syncretism Throughout history feuds and frequent hostilities between local groups were evidence of the plurality of cultures 8 The region has never been united politically not as an empire nor as a space shared among a few feuding kingdoms not even as a zone with harmonised political systems Forms of distinct customary political organisations chiefly lineage based versus feudal 9 have long existed At the national level today political regimes in countries sharing the region democracies three socialist governments one constitutional monarchy and one military dictatorship simply magnify this ancient political diversity Along with other transnational highlands around the Himalayas and around the world the Southeast Asian Massif is marginal and fragmented in historical economic as well as cultural terms It may thus be seen as lacking the necessary significance in the larger scheme of things to be proposed as a promising area subdivision of Asian studies However it is important to rethink country based research when addressing trans border and marginal societies Inquiries on the ground throughout the Massif show that these peoples share a sense of being different from the national majorities a sense of geographical remoteness and a state of marginality that is connected to political and economic distance from regional seats of power In cultural terms these highland societies are like a cultural mosaic with contrasting colours rather than an integrated picture in harmonized shades what Terry Rambo talking from a Vietnam perspective has dubbed a psychedelic nightmare 10 Yet when observed from the necessary distance that mosaic can form a distinctive and significant picture even if an imprecise one at times Historically 11 these highlands have been used by lowland empires as reserves of resources including slaves and as buffer spaces between their domains Zomia EditZomia is a geographical term coined in 2002 by historian Willem van Schendel of the University of Amsterdam 12 13 to refer to the huge mass of mainland Southeast Asia that has historically been beyond the control of governments based in the population centers of the lowlands 14 It largely overlaps with the geographical extent of the Southeast Asian Massif although the exact boundaries of Zomia differ among scholars 15 all would include the highlands of north Indochina north Vietnam and all Laos Thailand the Shan Hills of northern Myanmar and the mountains of Southwest China some extend the region as far west as Tibet Northeast India Pakistan and Afghanistan These areas share a common elevated rugged terrain and have been the home of ethnic minorities that have preserved their local cultures by residing far from state control and influence Other scholars have used the term to discuss the similar ways that Southeast Asian governments have handled minority groups 16 Zomia covers more than 2 500 000 square kilometres 970 000 sq mi over the Southeast Asian Massif and comprises nearly one hundred million marginal people This large area is inside the fringe of eight states and the entirety of one stretching across the standard regional designations South Asia East Asia and Southeast Asia Along with its ecological diversity and its relation to states it arouses a lot of interest It stands for an original entity of study a type of international appellation and a different way in which to study regions In 2009 political scientist James Scott 17 argued that there is a unity across the Massif which he calls Zomia regarding political forms of domination and subordination which bonds the fates of the peoples dwelling there virtually all of whom had taken refuge there to avoid being integrated into a more powerful state or even allowing the very appearance of a state like structure within their own societies This argument had also been made in a slightly different manner by Dutch social scientist Willem van Schendel in 2002 18 Van Schendel had coined the term Zomia but its geographic coverage differs significantly from Scott s Etymology Edit The name is from Zomi a term for highlander common to several related Tibeto Burman languages spoken in the India Bangladesh Burma border area 19 James C Scott Edit Professor James C Scott of Yale University used the concept of Zomia in his 2009 book The Art of Not Being Governed An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia to argue that the continuity of the ethnic cultures living there provides a counter narrative to the traditional story about modernity namely that once people are exposed to the conveniences of modern technology and the modern state they will assimilate Rather the tribes in Zomia are conscious refugees from state rule and state centered economies From his preface Hill tribes seen from the valley kingdoms as our living ancestors what we were like before we discovered wet rice cultivation Buddhism and civilization are on the contrary best understood as runaway fugitive maroon communities who have over the course of two millennia been fleeing the oppressions of state making projects in the valleys slavery conscription taxes corvee labor epidemics and warfare Scott goes on to add that Zomia is the biggest remaining area of earth whose inhabitants have not been completely absorbed by nation states although that time is coming to an end While Zomia is exceptionally diverse linguistically the languages spoken in the hills are distinct from those spoken in the plains Kinship structures at least formally also distinguish the hills from the lowlands Hill societies do produce a surplus but they do not use that surplus to support kings and monks Distinctions of status and wealth abound in the hills as in the valleys The difference is that in the valleys they tend to be enduring while in the hills they are both unstable and geographically confined 20 Differing perspectives Edit Jean Michaud explains the many dilemmas that arise from the language used to address the group of people residing in Zomia in his Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif 21 The people of Zomia are often referred to as national minority groups and Michaud argues that contention arises with each of these words In regards to the word national Michaud claims that the peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif are in fact transnational as many groups span over several countries According to Michaud minority is not the legitimate way to label the group either since the populations are so vast Michaud even claims that the word group is problematic because of its connotation with community and social cohesion that not all groups share 22 23 In 2010 the Journal of Global History published a special issue Zomia and Beyond 24 In this issue contemporary historians and social scientists of Southeast Asia respond to Scott s arguments For example although Southeast Asian expert Victor Lieberman 25 agrees that the highland people crafted their own social worlds in response to the political and natural environments that they encountered he also finds Scott s documentation to be very weak especially its lack of Burmese language sources saying that not only does this undermine several of Scott s key arguments but it brings some of his other theories about Zomia into question Furthermore Lieberman argues that Scott is overestimating the importance of manpower as a determinant in military success While the bulk of Scott s argument rests on the efforts of lowland states to dominate the highlands Lieberman shows the importance of maritime commerce as an equally contributing factor Lieberman also says that examples not included in Scott s analysis need to be taken into consideration Scott firmly believes that the culture took shape as a defensive mechanism as a reaction to surrounding political and social environments Lieberman however argues that the highland peoples of Borneo Kalimantan had virtually the same cultural characteristics as the Zomians such as the proliferation of local languages and swidden cultivation which were all developed without a lowland predatory state 26 More recently Scott s claims have been questioned by Tom Brass 27 Brass maintains that it is incorrect to characterize upland Southeast Asia as state repelling zones of refuge asylum to which people voluntarily migrate This is he argues an idealization consistent with the new populist postmodernism but not supported by ethnographic evidence The latter suggests that populations neither choose to migrate to upland areas but go because they are forced off valley land nor once there are they beyond the reach of the lowland State Consequently they are anything but empowered and safe in such contexts Edward Stringham and Caleb J Miles analyzed historical and anthropological evidence from societies in Southeast Asia and concluded that they have avoided states for thousands of years Stringham further analyzes the institutions used to avoid repel and prevent would be states He further concludes that stateless societies like Zomia have successfully repelled states using location specific production methods and cultural resistance to states 28 See also EditMainland Southeast Asia Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area Burma Road Hill tribe Thailand Mandala Southeast Asian history Monthon Thai history Albion s Seed Zomi General Economic anthropology Primitive culture Palearctic realm Refugium population biology References Edit Michaud Jean Meenaxi B Ruscheweyh Margaret B Swain 2016 Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif Second Edition Lanham Boulder New York London Rowman amp Littlefield 594p Michaud J 1997 Economic transformation in a Hmong village of Thailand Human Organization 56 2 222 232 Willem van Schendel Geographies of knowing geographies of ignorance jumping scale in Southeast Asia Environment and Planning D Society and Space 20 6 2002 pp 647 68 James C Scott The art of not being governed an anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia New Haven CT Yale University Press 2009 Michaud J 2010 Zomia and Beyond Journal of Global History 5 2 205 Hall A History of Southeast Asia Tarling The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia Melvyn C Goldstein A History of Modern Tibet 1913 1951 The Demise of the Lamaist State Berkeley U of California Press 1989 Herman Amid the Clouds and Mist Robert D Jenks Insurgency and Social Disorder in Guizhou The Miao Rebellion 1854 1873 Honolulu HA U of Hawaii Press 1994 Claudine Lombard Salmon Un exemple d acculturation chinoise la province du Guizhou au XVIIIe siecle Paris Publication de l Ecole Francaise d Extreme Orient vol LXXXIV 1972 See Michaud J 2016 Seeing the Forest for the Trees Scale Magnitude and Range in the Southeast Asian Massif Pp 1 40 in Michaud Jean Meenaxi B Ruscheweyh and Margaret B Swain Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the South East Asian Massif Second Edition Lanham Boulder New York London Rowman amp Littlefield A T Rambo Development Trends In Vietnam s Northern Mountain Region In D Donovan A T Rambo J Fox And Le Trong Cuc Eds Development Trends In Vietnam s Northern Mountainous Region Hanoi National Political Publishing House pp 5 52 1997 p 8 Lim Territorial Power Domains Andrew Walker The Legend of the Golden Boat Regulation Trade and Traders in the Borderlands of Laos Thailand China and Burma Honolulu U of Hawaii Press 1999 Willem van Schendel International Institute of Social History Retrieved November 28 2010 Kratoska P H Raben R Nordholt H S eds 2005 Locating Southeast Asia Geographies of Knowledge and Politics of Space Singapore University Press p v ISBN 9971 69 288 0 van Schendel W 2005 Geographies of knowing geographies of ignorance Jumping scale in Southeast Asia In Kratoska P H Raben R Nordholt H S eds Locating Southeast Asia Geographies of Knowledge and Politics of Space Singapore University Press ISBN 9971 69 288 0 Michaud 2010 Archived October 3 2011 at the Wayback Machine Michaud J 2009 February Handling Mountain Minorities in China Burma Cambodia Vietnam and Laos From History to Current Concerns Asian Ethnicity 10 25 49 James C Scott The art of not being governed Willem van Schendel Geographies of knowing geographies of ignorance Scott James C 2009 The Art of Not Being Governed An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia Yale Agrarian Studies New Haven amp London Yale University Press pp 14 16 ISBN 978 0 300 15228 9 Notes to pages 5 14 Other explicit proponents of a systematic view from the periphery include Michaud Turbulent Times and Enduring Peoples especially the Introduction by Michaud and John McKinnon 1 25 and Hjorleifur Jonsson Mien Relations Mountain Peoples Ethnography and State Control Ithaca Cornell University Press 2005 F K L Chit Hlaing F K Lehman Some Remarks upon Ethnicity Theory and Southeast Asia with Special Reference to the Kayah and Kachin in Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma ed Mikael Gravers Copenhagen NIAS Press 2007 107 22 esp 109 10 In addition he maintains that many traits that are viewed in mainstream cultures as primitive or backward and used to denigrate hill peoples are actually adaptations to avoid state incorporation such as lack of a written language shifting messianic religious movements or nomadism Their presence is absent from most histories since as Scott puts it it is the peasants job to stay out of the archives Nonetheless in reality he sees the relationship between upland and lowland peoples as reciprocal since upland peoples are essential as a source of trade Scott James C 2009 The Art of Not Being Governed An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia Yale Agrarian Studies New Haven amp London Yale University Press pp 14 16 ISBN 978 0 300 15228 9 Notes to pages 5 14 Other explicit proponents of a systematic view from the periphery include Michaud Turbulent Times and Enduring Peoples especially the Introduction by Michaud and John McKinnon 1 25 Turner S C Bonnin and J Michaud 2015 Frontier Livelihoods Hmong in the Sino Vietnamese Borderlands Seattle University of Washington Press and Hjorleifur Jonsson Mien Relations Mountain Peoples Ethnography and State Control Ithaca Cornell University Press 2005 F K L Chit Hlaing F K Lehman Some Remarks upon Ethnicity Theory and Southeast Asia with Special Reference to the Kayah and Kachin in Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma ed Mikael Gravers Copenhagen NIAS Press 2007 107 22 esp 109 10 Jean Michaud Ph D Anthropologist Universite Laval Quebec Canada Retrieved September 22 2011 Jean Michaud is a social anthropologist and specialises since 1988 on issues of social change among highland populations of Asia Michaud Jean April 2006 Introduction Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif Historical Dictionaries of Peoples and Cultures 4 Lanham Maryland Scarecrow Press p 4 ISBN 978 0 8108 5466 6 Retrieved September 8 2011 For this dictionary a compromise solution has been adopted which was to accept official national ethnonyms but correct mistakes whenever possible and cross reference to alternative names Close to 200 ethnonyms thus have their own entries which is the largest number the relatively humble format of this series allows Michaud Jean 2010 Editorial Zomia and beyond Journal of Global History 5 London School of Economics and Political Science Universite Laval 5 2 187 214 doi 10 1017 S1740022810000057 This editorial develops two themes First it discusses how historical and anthropological approaches can relate to each other in the field of the highland margins of Asia and beyond Second it explores how we might further our understandings of the uplands of Asia by applying different terms such as Haute Asie the Southeast Asian Massif the Hindu Kush Himalayan region the Himalayan Massif and in particular Zomia a neologism gaining popularity with the publication of James C Scott s latest book Guest editor Jean Michaud 2010 Journal of Global History Journal of Global History Cambridge Journals Online 5 2 ISSN 1740 0228 Retrieved September 7 2011 Published for London School of Economics and Political Science Victor B Lieberman Marvin B Becker Collegiate Professor of Southeast Asia pre modern Burma early modern world history University of Michigan Retrieved September 7 2011 Little Daniel Michael E Smith et al October 18 2010 Zomia reconsidered blogspot web based monograph UnderstandingSociety p 1 Retrieved September 7 2011 Lieberman s most recent volumes Strange Parallels Volume 1 Integration on the Mainland Southeast Asia in Global Context c 800 1830 v 1 and Strange Parallels Volume 2 Mainland Mirrors Europe Japan China South Asia and the Islands Southeast Asia in Global Context c 800 1830 are directly relevant to Scott s analysis Tom Brass 2012 Scott s Zomia or a Populist Post modern History of Nowhere Journal of Contemporary Asia 42 1 123 33 Stringham Edward 2012 Repelling States Evidence from Upland Southeast Asia Review of Austrian Economics 25 1 17 33 doi 10 1007 s11138 010 0115 3 S2CID 144582680 SSRN 1715223 External links EditDrake Bennett December 6 2009 The mystery of Zomia Ideas Globe Newspaper Company Retrieved November 28 2010 In the lawless mountain realms of Asia a Yale professor finds a case against civilization Podcast of a James C Scott lecture on Zomia Review by Drake Bennett of Scott s The Art of Not Being Governed Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies discussing the term Zomia Whose idea is it anyway Bunopas Sangad Vella Paul November 17 24 1992 Geotectonics and Geologic Evolution of Thailand PDF National Conference on Geologic Resources of Thailand Potential for Future Development Department of Mineral Resources Bangkok pp 209 229 ISBN 9789747984415 Archived from the original PDF on August 20 2011 Retrieved November 27 2010 Thailand consists of Shan Thai and Indochina Microcontinents or Terranes welded together by the subsequently deformed Nan Suture During the Middle Triassic Shan Thai sutured nearly simultaneously to Indochina and to South China the continent continent collision being a part of the Indosinian Orogeny and Indochina tended to underthrust Shan Thai Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Southeast Asian Massif amp oldid 1022626773, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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