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The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (Yale Agrarian Studies Series) Hardcover – September 30, 2009
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- There exists a zone in Southeast Asia and South Asia, for the most part at higher elevations, where people have always actively resisted incorporation in anything like a state.
- These people have generally been called primitive and been considered to be lesser on an evolutionary scale, inferior versions of "us," whether "us" means the traditional and precolonial state societies in the region, colonial powers, or postcolonial "independent" nation-states.
- But in reality these people are not and have not been primitive traces of the past; instead they have actively resisted taking part in what we have always been taught is "progress." They have chosen to flee taxes, forced labor/slavery, conscription, and authority in general.
- In fact (a) these "hill people" have always been in a symbiotic relationship with states, providing economic resources, for example, via trade, and (b) people have moved back and forth across the actually permeable boundary between these non-state social milieus and the realm of states. People have, in other words, throughout history fled states for the hills and sometimes (when perceived as advantageous) left the hills for the state.
- Sadly, this may not be as possible as it used to be, but Scott's work suggests to this reader that what the non-state realm of Zomia actually means for us is that resistance to what one might call "capture" is always possible. This doesn't necessarily have to mean not paying taxes or living in the woods, perhaps. It can also mean thinking freely, in ways that are not pre-fabricated, in ways in which we were not taught, in creative ways....
The Art of Not Being Governed
Modern Society in the 21st Century has adopted the perception that anarchist principles are beliefs that can only exist outside the concepts of civilization. Hence, it is customary to equate such conditions to those peoples that embrace the freedom and liberties that exist outside of a defined Nation-State. Peoples that fall within that category are generally considered to be untamed barbarians, savages, anti-state or otherwise classified in similar derogatory terms which translate into being outside the norm. Conventional wisdom, at least in the minds-eye of 21st Century adherents is that those living outside State control are primitive, backward societies existing in the backwaters of ever advancing civilizations.
In this book, author James C. Scott dispels many of these myths and suggests strongly that those people living outside the confines of statehood do so of their own conscious, deliberate actions to avoid the onerous dictates of those who would seek to enslave them. Obviously, his expertise is in the examination of societies in that portion of the world that he terms Zomia, i.e. those regions comprised of Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Siam, Burma, Southern China and portions of India and Afghanistan. Obviously, as an anthropologist and political scientist, he is well qualified to comment with some authority on the subject. He does not however neglect to comment on similar conditions amongst other societies that have shunned civilization to avoid the onerous effects of confiscatory taxation, forced corvette labor, military conscription and enforced religious edicts.
In the cited example of Zambia, he classifies the two groups simultaneously dwelling in the region as Valley people and Hill people.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I wish I could say this book teaches you how to not be governed, but no. It is a well-researched and quite readable historical/geographical narrative about Asian mountain people... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jane
Exactly what I was expecting! Great product - I would absolutely recommend this to anyone.Published 19 months ago by brittney little
lots of information about a society that did not conform to world socio-economic norms. very well written.Published 19 months ago by will crow
Good? Good? I'd say 'Very Good' (If not 'Great'). So there's no dust jacket . . . . I don't want dust anyway. Wonderful condition David. Thank you.Published 20 months ago by N. McMenemy
As a longtime professor of anarchism and democracy, did I learn a lot from this book! It provides a whole different angle on state building, also successful anarchy before states... Read morePublished 22 months ago by William J. Puka
This is a historical study of the symbiotic relationships between the rice-growing valley civilizations of south and east Asia and the hill tribes along their periphery until the... Read morePublished on July 9, 2014 by Charles Bookman
James Scott is well-known among cultural anthropologists for this and other works which challenge some long-held assumptions and axioms about traditional social structures in... Read morePublished on March 24, 2014 by R. Ross Rodgers
Scott’s fascinating study bears on everything we do, think and say. The arena for his inquiry is the valleys, rivers, hills and mountains of S.E. Asia. Read morePublished on February 12, 2014 by Stephen C. Baer