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Jean Michaud and Dan Smyer Yü | Zomia, Frictions and Multistate Margins in Modern Trans-Himalayas

Reading - Nonfiction | February 13 | 4-6 p.m. | Stephens Hall, 10 (ISAS Conf. Room)


Dan Smyer Yü, Professor and Director, Center for Trans-Himalayan Studies, Yunnan Minzu University; Jean Michaud, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Laval University

Lawrence Cohen, Professor of Anthropology and of South & Southeast Asian Studies

Institute for South Asia Studies, Himalayan Studies Program, Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS)


Join us as anthropologists of the Trans Himalayan region, Jean Michaud & Dan Smyer Yü discuss two of their latest publications:

Trans-Himalayan Borderlands: Livelihoods, Territorialities, Modernities.
Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, Asian Borderlands Series.
Dan Smyer Yü and Jean Michaud, eds., 2017

The societies in the Himalayan borderlands have undergone wide-ranging transformations as the territorial reconfiguration of modern nation-states since the mid-twentieth century and the presently increasing trans-Himalayan movements of people, goods and capital, reshape the livelihoods of communities, pulling them into global trends of modernization and regional discourses of national belonging. This book explores the changes to native senses of place, the conception of border - simultaneously as limitations and opportunities - and what the authors call "affective boundaries," "livelihood reconstruction," and "trans-Himalayan modernities." It addresses changing social, political, and environmental conditions that acknowledge growing external connectivity even as it emphasizes the importance of place. The co-editors of the book present the modern trans-Himalayas as cartographical margins of multiple states and argue that the effect of globalization in the trans-Himalayas does not make national boundaries porous as shown elsewhere in the world but rather further rigidifies them and prompts more active responses from borderland communities seeking to reconstruct the livelihoods disrupted by the global and local forces of modern change. Adaptive strategies in this regard increasingly entail symbioses of mountain and valley livelihoods, and local and transregional labor markets and trade networks under the condition of transborder modernization programs and the demands of global consumer markets.

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.

Dwelling in the highland areas of Northeast India, Bangladesh, Southwest China, Taiwan, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Peninsular Malaysia are hundreds of “peoples”. Together their population adds up to 100 million, more than most of the countries they live in. Yet in each of these countries, they are regarded as minorities.

This second edition of Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif contains a chronology, an introduction, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 700 cross-referenced entries on about 300 groups, the ten countries they live in, their historical figures, and their salient political, economic, social, cultural and religious aspects. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more.

Speaker Bios

Dan Smyer Yü is Professor and Founding Director of the Center for Trans-Himalayan
Studies at Yunnan Minzu University. Prior to his current faculty appointment, he was a Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and a core member of the Transregional Research Network (CETREN) at the University of Göttingen in Göttingen, Germany, and a New Millennium Scholar at Minzu University of China, Beijing. He is the author of The Spread of Tibetan Buddhism in China: Charisma, Money, Enlightenment (Routledge, 2011), Mindscaping the Landscape of Tibet: Place, Memorability, Ecoaesthetics (De Gruyter, 2015), and numerous book chapters and peer-reviewed articles. His current research interests are religion and ecology, environmental humanities, transboundary state effects, hydraulic politics, climate change and heritage preservation, Buddhism and peacebuilding, and comparative studies of Eurasian secularisms. He is also a documentary filmmaker.

Jean Michaud is a social anthropologist and professor at Université Laval in Canada.
Since 1987, he has conducted anthropological research in highland India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Yunnan on social change and responses to modernity among highland societies. He is the author of Incidental’ Ethnographers: French Catholic Missions on the Tonkin-Yunnan Frontier, 1880-1930 (Brill, 2007), and coauthor of Frontier Livelihoods: Hmong in the Sino-Vietnamese Borderlands (UW Press, 2015), and The Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif , 2nd ed. (Rowman & Littlefijield, 2016). He coedited Moving Mountains: Ethnicity and Livelihoods in Highland China, Vietnam and Lao (UBC Press, 2011). His research articles include ‘Zomia and Beyond’ ( Journal of Global History , 2010), ‘Hmong Infrapolitics: A View from Vietnam’ ( Ethnic and Racial Studies , 2012), and ‘What’s (Written) History For? On James C. Scott’s Zomia – especially Chapter 6½.’ ( Anthropology Today , 2017).

Event made possible with the support of the Sarah Kailath Chair of India Studies

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