Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Art of NOT Being Governed: Zones of Refuge

" There is strong evidence that Zomia is not simply a region of resistance to valley states, but a region of refuge as well....Far from being "left behind" by the progress of civilization in the valleys, they have, over long periods of time, chosen to place themselves out of the reach of the state."

This touches on the idea that the standard narrative of progress is one where barbarians are slowly and systemically brought into civilization via the natural growth of the state. As if it is unfortunate that some have not yet been brought under the protective umbrella (control) of the state.

Instead, it seems that many purposely and by intent chose to remain outside of or to otherwise avoid the state. "...the history of hill peoples is best understood as a history not of archaic remnants but of "runaways" from state-making processes in the lowlands."

As mentioned previously, this is not only true for Zomia, but in many other regions and for many other people around the world. "The Cossacks...were, at the outset, nothing more and nothing less than runaway serfs from all over European Russia." " The history of the Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) in late-seventeenth-century Europe provides a further striking example."

Instead of being the outcasts, in fact these groups and others chose to "cast-out", if you will, the state. These people are not the unfortunate remnants of others who chose to voluntarily move into the state-controlled lowlands and "civilization". They are the ones who purposely chose to stay out, or who had otherwise escaped from the lowland states.

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