James Scott’s book "The Art of Not Being Governed" laid out his thesis of state evasion and state prevention in upland areas of SE Asia and caused a great controversy.

Christian Daniels:

Blocking the Path of Feral Pigs with Rotten Bamboo: The Role of Upland Peoples in the Crisis of a Tay Polity in Southwest Yunnan, 1792 to 1836

The Role of Upland Peoples in the Crisis of a Tay Polity in Southwest Yunnan, 1792 to 1836

Abstract: This paper challenges James Scott’s thesis of state evasion and state prevention as the basic features of lowland-upland relationships. It scrutinizes the validity of Scott’s assumptions by examining the case of prolonged violent conflict in a tiny Tay polity feudatory to China during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Civil war broke out in the Mäng2 Khön1 polity (Mangshi, Dehong Autonomous Region in southwest Yunnan, China) due to mismanagement by the monarch of two upland peoples, the Jingpo and the Ta’aang. The analysis of the hostilities furnishes no evidence to validate Scott’s thesis of mountain areas as refuge zones for migrants from lowland oppression. What it does expose, however, is the symbiotic side to upland-lowland relationships. It concludes that symbiosis of upland and lowland was a central issue for the maintenance of political and social stability. Rather than viewing diametric opposition as the main characteristic of upland-lowland relations as Scott does, this study demonstrates the role of interdependence and cooperation, and reveals that relationships between upland peoples and Tay polities shifted according to changing politicosocial circumstances. It also identifies the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a tumultuous period for upland and lowland, when the migration of new ethnic groups forced basin polities to readjust their strategies.

James C. Scott:

The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia

An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia

Book cover for Art of Not Being Governed

郑宇 (Zheng Yu) and 张梦尧 (Zhang Mengyao):

佐米亚”理论预设反思与方法论批判——西方文化中心论遮蔽下的《逃避统治的艺术

Abstract:

斯科特在《逃避统治的艺术》一书中运用了可视为人类学学科标识的整体论、互动论和比较方法,倡导反中心主义、反进化论观念,并通过系统论证,试图提炼出阐明高地族群逃避国家统治的策略性及合理性的一种"佐米亚"理论。然而该书却在深层次上陷入了西方文化中心论的窠臼:国家与高地二元对立冲突的精简论证结构,植根于对高地族群秉持绝对化自由价值观的预设;基于"手段—目的"逻辑导致的系列论断错误,源自对高地族群具备"原始"工具理性的预设。而与之匹配的旨在构建普世性理论的演绎法,也没有真正实现预期的、创新研究方法的目标。可见,基于西方文化中心论的理论预设及其方法论问题才是该研究遭到广泛质疑和持续批判的根本原因所在。