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Border Landscapes

The Politics of Akha Land Use in China and Thailand

By Janet C. Sturgeon

Publication Year: 2011

"Sturgeon admirably demonstrates how local people live with the reality of continually negotiated political, social and ecological boundaries between China and Thailand. A scholarly, interesting and timely treatment of an important issue, the ever-changing and local nature of political and environmental transformation of a minority culture not just in a single political setting, but on the boundaries of multi-state formation and resource control." - Pacific Affairs

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. ix-xi

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pp. 3-23

THE JEEP LUMBERS UP A DIRT ROAD FROM THE XISHUANGBANNA VALLEY, a tropical site in southern Yunnan in China, to Mengsong, an Akha settlement at the top of the ridge. We pass villages half hidden in the trees and large forests that look good from a moving vehicle. ...

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1. The Production of Border Landscapes

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pp. 24-41

One morning in Mengsong I found Akheu, the administrative village head, nailing a leopard skin to the doorframe of his house to dry. Akheu was smiling to himself as he worked, clearly pleased with this leopard skin. I admired the skin and asked how he got it. ...

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2. The Production of Marginal Peoples and Landscapes: Resource Access on the Periphery

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pp. 42-64

IN BOTH PREMODERN CHINA AND SIAM,1 THE MODES OF CENTRAL RULE over rural areas were configured around the collection of grain. In each case, the government extracted taxes in grain from lowland farmers who were included in mainstream society. ...

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3. The Production of Borders: Sites for the Accumulation and Distribution of Resources

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pp. 65-79

FORMAL THEORIES ABOUT POWER IN PREMODERN SOUTHEAST ASIAN kingdoms have presented the view from the center, assuming that all power emanates from the king (Tambiah 1976: 108; Lucien Hanks 1962). While these theories have acknowledged small principalities on the fringes of kingdoms,...

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4. Small Border Chiefs and Resource Control, 1910 to 1997

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pp. 80-118

THE NARRATIVES BELOW TRACE THE HISTORY OF VILLAGE HEADS IN Mengsong and Akhapu from the early twentieth century through 1997, when my field research ended. Many of these village heads and other influential...

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5. Premodern Border Landscapes Under Border Principalities

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pp. 119-141

THE GREAT HIMALAYAN RANGE STRETCHES FROM WEST TO EAST ACROSS central Asia, massively dividing China from Pakistan, India, and Nepal. At its eastern edge, the Himalaya loses elevation and bends southward, forming steep north-south ridges through much of Yunnan Province, northeastern Burma, and northern Thailand. ...

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6. Landscape Plasticity versus Landscapes of Productivity and Rule: Akha Livelihoods under Nation-States

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pp. 142-200

Seuzon, a woman of sixty-six in 1997, married into Xianfeng (China) in 1949 when she was twenty years old. In 1960 her husband decided to take a second wife. Seuzon objected and moved back to Guanming, her natal hamlet in Mengsong, taking along her small son. ...

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pp. 201-208

BORDERS ARE PROCESSES REPLETE WITH POLITICS, BOTH AS MARGINS OF the nation-state (border-as-margin) and as cross-border social relations (border-as-line). In the first meaning, border-as-margin, political centers have produced marginal peoples, spaces, and land uses by linking them...

Appendix 1: Trees and Shrubs of Mengsong, China

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pp. 209-215

Appendix 2: Trees and Shrubs of Akhapu, Thailand

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pp. 217-220


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pp. 221-228


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pp. 229-231


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pp. 233-243


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pp. 245-255

E-ISBN-13: 9780295801735
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295801735

Publication Year: 2011