From the Mountains and the Interiors: A Quarter of a Century of Research among Fourth World Peoples in Southeast Asia (with Special Reference to Northern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia)

By Walker, Anthony R. | Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, September 1995 | Go to article overview

From the Mountains and the Interiors: A Quarter of a Century of Research among Fourth World Peoples in Southeast Asia (with Special Reference to Northern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia)


Walker, Anthony R., Journal of Southeast Asian Studies


1. Introduction: The State of Play in 1970

Twenty-five years ago, in 1970, when the first volume of the Journal of South-East Asian Studies made its appearance, I was living in a rather remote mountain village in Phrao district, northern Thailand, about to complete a four-year field project with the Lahu Nyi. I was one of close to a dozen social and cultural anthropologists, at various stages in their professional careers from Ph.D. candidates (such as myself) to seasoned professionals (like the late Bill Geddes), at work among Thailand's so-called "northern hill tribes".(1) The small expatriate community in the charming Chiang Mai of those days readily joked about "the anthropologist behind every bush in the northern hills". In fact there were good reasons for this heavy concentration of anthropological research at that time. The 1960s were perhaps the halcyon days for social and cultural anthropology in the Western academy; naturally this happy situation was reflected in the numbers of doctoral candidates proceeding to the field. Moreover, within the mainland Southeast Asia of that time, only Thailand provided academic researchers with relatively easy and more-or-less safe access to its mountain peoples.

In those days only a few of us were engaged in finely-focused research: demographics and epidemiology, for example;(2) the majority had much more general ethnographic interests in the people among whom we were living. The reason for this was obvious. In the mid-1960s we knew very little, from a professional anthropological perspective, about these upland societies and cultures. Many of us felt that we had to complete the ethnographic spadework before we could devote ourselves to more finely focused research problems. We wanted to study, in as great a depth as time and our informants permitted us, such matters as the settlement patterns, the demographic characteristics and economic bases of highland village communities, the social structure of village societies, the ritual lives of whole communities, of households and of individuals, and the supernatural premises that underlie the highlanders' world views, whether concerning the mundane (farming, for example) or the transcendent worlds (the nature of souls, spirits, the afterworld, and so on). The major theoretical text that many of us carried in our intellectual baggage was Leach's Political Systems of Highland Burma,(3) and it was not at all apparent that this highly idiosyncratic work would have immediate application to the North Thailand scene.

In 1970, apart from New Zealand geographer F.G.B. Keen's 48-page booklet The Meo of Northwest Thailand(4) and American cultural anthropologist Peter Kunstadter's The Lua' (Lawa) of Northern Thailand: Aspects of Social Structure, Agriculture, and Religion,(5) there was no published scholarly ethnographic monograph - based on recent field work, that is - on any of the upward-dwelling ethnic groups: Hmong, Iu Mien, Karen, Lahu, Lisu, Akha, Lua', Khammu or Htin (a highly simplified listing, since most of these peoples have subdivisions so significantly different from each other as to preclude any simple ethnographic generalization on the basis of a single ethnic label). Moreover, there were few unpublished dissertations (James Hamilton's "Ban Hong: Social Structure and Economy of a Pwo Karen Village in Northern Thailand" was one; another was Delmos Jones's "Cultural Variation among Six Lahu Villages, Northern Thailand"),(6) which might lend support to the published record. True, there were, by the end of 1969, a couple of collections of essays by professional anthropologists on the peoples of the northern uplands: the 1965 Cornell volume Ethnographic Notes on Northern Thailand, jointly edited by Lucien and Jane Hanks and Lauriston Sharp,(7) and a more recent collection of papers, the result of a 1967 conference sponsored by the Tribal Research Centre in Chiang Mai, entitled Tribesmen and Peasants in North Thailand. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

From the Mountains and the Interiors: A Quarter of a Century of Research among Fourth World Peoples in Southeast Asia (with Special Reference to Northern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.