Seminar: "The History of State Evasion and Prevention," James Scott, Yale University


"Zomia" is a new term aiming to describe the vast upland zone of Southeast Asia between China and India, including parts of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Burma. Bangladesh, southeastern China and northeast India. The roughly 100 million people--of bewildering linguistic and cultural complexity-- living in this zone have typically been thought of as backward, left-behind, primatives ("our living ancestors") by populations and heads of the major valley states. My claim it rather that these peoples have, for more than 2,00 years, been running away from the taxes, forced labor, epidemics, wars, and conscription and settling in the hills to avoid becoming state-subjects. Their history, their social organization, their subsistence routines, and even their oral culture are, I argue, designed to evade existing states and to prevent the formation of states in the hills. They are perhaps the most numerous example of state evading peoples elsewhere in the world who have fled to swamps, mangrove coasts, deltas, etc.

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Spring 2014 Calendar

April 9, 2014 - 10:00pm
Event Location 
SSM 117