Moving Mountains: Ethnicity and Livelihoods in Highland China, Vietnam, and Laos

Moving Mountains: Ethnicity and Livelihoods in Highland China, Vietnam, and Laos

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0774818387

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The mountainous borderlands of socialist China, Vietnam, and Laos are home to some 70 million minority people of diverse ethnicities. In Moving Mountains, anthropologists, geographers, and political economists with first-hand experience in the region explore these peoples' survival strategies as they respond to unprecedented economic and political change. This unprecedented glimpse into a poorly understood region shows that development initiatives must be built on strong knowledge of local cultures in order to have lasting effect.











most important aspect of slavery was considered to be the sense of exclusion. As Testart (2001, 24) writes, “The slave is a man without an identity.” The (legal) status of the slave is marked by the total exclusion from his or her society of origin. It is often said by the Drung that the people who were traded for oxen were – in this patrilineal society – children without recognized fathers. Fundamentally, in Drung society, exclusion referred to kinship. By contrast, the Tibetans in Tsarong

discuss in Chapter 1, systems of classification were derived from an agenda of rationalization and control. This is especially true for peoples such as the Drung who lived in politically contested areas, as around the Sino-Burmese border. Up to the mid-1950s, the Chinese used the term “Qiuzi” to designate the present-day Drung and some of their immediate neighbours in upper Burma. (Indeed, a few Western sources also used this term, written as “Kiutzu” or “Kioutsé.”)5 The British, having settled

the state comes with a price tag. The categorization in terms of needing and lacking resonates with the Drung’s own discourse on their sense of not having had their fair share. But if the Drung make use of official vocabulary and external stereotypes imposed on them, it is also an indirect way to justify particular living conditions and require more than what is already being received. Today more than ever, the socialist state is adopting the role of the giver in this region. At first, the

laid down by a representative group of village elders who determined what building materials could be gathered and, depending on suitability, what land could be cleared and planted. This form of traditional governance allowed villagers access to land to grow low-yielding dry (non-irrigated) rice and other crops, such as millet, buckwheat, and maize. As many as a third of the total number of households secured the greater part of their food needs by working land as tenants or labour paid with

provided a reasonable ground cover and could be harvested and processed any time money was needed. Environmental Impacts of Cash Crops Lemon-grass cultivation had many commercial advantages, as well as a considerable environmental impact (McConchie and McKinnon 2004). To plant it, watershed forest had to be cleared. Once established, it was physically difficult to remove, especially as some cultural practices restricted people from destroying plants that had contributed to their livelihood.

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