Mining, history, and the anti-state Wa

Magnus Fiskesjö
None, 2010 vol. 5 no 2 pp. 241-264
Online version
DOI: 10.1017/S1740022810000070
Abstract: Historically autonomous and fiercely egalitarian, yet far from isolated and extensively implicated in regional, and global, economies of trade and exchange, the Wa people on the Burma–China frontier stand out in the history of marginal peoples refusing to be marginalized. This article addresses the place of mining in the political history of the Wa area – a key part of what has recently been called the Zomia region, but one which differs from many other cases because of its activist statelessness. The history of the Wa areas is outlined and discussed with reference to larger debates over agency, autonomy, and state formation, with particular attention to mining resources and their relation to Wa politics before the mid twentieth century.