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Stories from an Ancient Land
Perspectives on Wa History and Culture
414 pages, 25 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78920-887-0 $145.00/£107.00 Hb Not Yet Published (August 2021)
eISBN 978-1-78920-888-7 eBook Not Yet Published
“Stories from an Ancient Land creatively weaves together ethnohistory, fieldwork, archival research, and social theory. Through his research on and with the Wa in southwest China and in the Myanmar borderlands, Fiskesjö has crafted a thorough and insightful examination of Wa society and cultural dynamics. This excellent ethnography is in equal measure bold and nuanced. It offers compelling angles on peripheral situations, complex histories, violence, grotesque imagery, appropriation, and cultural resilience.” • Hjorleifur Jonsson, Arizona State University
The Wa people have a rich civilization of their own, and a deep history in the mountains of Southeast Asia. Their mythology suggests their land is the first place inhabited by humans, which they care for on behalf of the world. This book introduces aspects of Wa culture, including their approach to the world’s troubles and the lessons others might learn from it. It also presents a new interpretation of Wa headhunting, questioning explanations that see it as a primitive custom, and instead placing it within the fraught history of the last few centuries.
Magnus Fiskesjö is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Cornell University. He has published widely on topics such as ethnic relations, slavery and inequality, as well as heritage and museum issues, mainly in East and Southeast Asia.