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Centering the Margin: Agency and Narrative in Southeast Asian Borderlands

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Volume 4

Asian Anthropologies

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Centering the Margin

Agency and Narrative in Southeast Asian Borderlands

Edited by Alexander Horstmann and Reed L. Wadley†

248 pages, index, bibliog.

ISBN  978-1-84545-019-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (May 2006)

ISBN  978-1-84545-591-0 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (October 2008)

eISBN 978-0-85745-439-3 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…an excellent collection that should be read by all scholars of Southeast Asia, and that should provoke more thought and research on the people whose lives and practicescontinue to connect Southeast Asian nation-states.”  ·  JRAI

“The literature on borders and borderlands, the state, globalization and ethnic minorities, is now huge, but the editors of this book do a good job of summarizing most of it in their introduction...This book… will swiftly become a key reading in university courses dealing with borderlands and Southeast Asia.”  ·  Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde

“…each of the studies is well worth making available and the set of them offers a useful addition to the literature on borders and migration.”  ·  Anthropos


In a completely new approach to borders and border crossing, this volume suggests a re-conceptualization of the nation in Southeast Asia. Choosing an actor approach, the individual chapters in this volume capture the narratives of minorities, migrants and refugees who inhabit and cross borders as part of their everyday life. They show that people are not only constrained by borders; the crossing of borders also opens up new options of agency. Making active use of these, border-crossing actors construct their own live projects on the border in multiple ways against the original intention of the nation-state. Based on their intimate knowledge of the interaction of communities, anthropologists from Europe, the USA, Japan and Southeast Asia provide a vivid picture of the effects of state policies at the borders on these communities.

Alexander Horstmann teaches Social Anthropology of Southeast Asia at the University of Münster and is a Fellow of the Study Group Islamic Culture – Modern Society at the Institute of Advanced Study in the Humanities (Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut), Essen. Among his major publications include Class Culture and Space: The Construction and Shaping of Communal Space in South Thailand, Transaction, 2002.

Reed L. Wadley† was Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Missouri, USA. His research included borderlands, warfare, colonialism, natural resource management and historical ecology, involving Iban communities of West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Among his publications were Punitive expeditions and divine revenge: Oral and colonial histories of rebellion and pacification in western Borneo, 1886-1902, Ethnohistory (2004).

Subject: General Anthropology Refugee & Migration Studies
Area: Asia


Figures and Tables

Introduction: Centering the Margin in Southeast Asia
Alexander Horstmann and Reed L. Wadley


Chapter 1. “Once were Burmese Shans”: Reinventing Ethnic Identity in Northwestern Thailand
Niti Pawakapan

Chapter 2. Would-Be Centers: The Texture of Historical Discourse in Makassar
William Cummings

Chapter 3. Political Periphery, Cosmological Center: The Reproduction of Rmeet Sociocosmic Order and the Laos–Thailand Border
Guido Sprenger


Chapter 4. Premodern Flows in Postmodern China: Globalization and the Sipsongpanna Tais
Sara Davis

Chapter 5. Borders and Multiple Realities: The Orang Suku Laut of Riau, Indonesia
Cynthia Chou

Chapter 6. In the Margin of a Borderland: The Florenese Community between Nunukan and Tawau
Riwanto Tirtosudarmo


Chapter 7. Deconstructing Citizenship from the Border: Dual Ethnic Minorities and Local Reworking of Citizenship at the Thailand–Malaysian Frontier
Alexander Horstmann

Chapter 8. Sex and the Sacred: Sojourners and Visitors in the Making of the Southern Thai Borderland
Marc Askew

Chapter 9. Narrating the Border: Perspectives from the Kelabit Highlands of Borneo
Matthew H. Amster

Notes on Contributors

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