Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture 2008
This podcast was recorded at the Refugee Studies Centre’s Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture which was on Wednesday 21st May 2008 at Somerville College, University of Oxford. The Elizabeth Colson Lecture is held annually in honour of Professor Elizabeth Colson, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Professor James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science, Yale University gave this years lecture on the subject of Zomia: The Last Great Enclosure Movement and Stateless Peoples in Southeast Asia.
“Zomia is a shorthand reference to the huge, massif of mainland Southeast Asia, running from the Central Highlands of Vietnam westward all the way to northeastern India and including the southwest Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, and western Guangxi. Zomia has, I contend, been peopled over the last 2,000 years largely by runaways from several state-making projects in the valleys, most particularly Han state-making projects. They have, in the hills, acquired, and shifted, their ethnic identities. Far from being ‘remnants’ left behind by civilizing societies, they are, as it were, “barbarians by choice”?, peoples who have deliberately put distance between themselves and lowland, state-centers. It is in this context that their forms of agriculture, their social structures, and much of their culture, including perhaps even their illiteracy, can be understood as political choices.”
- Download podcast episode (MP3 file)