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From ‘Ghosts’ to ‘Hill Tribe’ to Thai Citizens. Towards a History of the Mlabri of Northern Thailand

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... Mla Bri children began attending school, a successful malaria eradication program was completed, medical services (especially prenatal and infant care) were provided, roads and transportation services established, the electrical grid extended to the new Mla Bri houses, and systematic access to markets developed. Traditional hunting and gathering activities continue, but they are restricted by access to forest areas which, besides being over-hunted, also came under the control of the Thai central government (Nimonjiya 2013, andLong, Long, andWaters 2013). ...
... It was in this context that family groups of Mla Bri began to locate more permanently near Ban Huay Hom, and by the early 2000s were building permanent housing using money saved from weaving hammocks for the export market to buy cement blocks, corrugated iron, and other building materials. In 2001, the Mla Bri were also issued Thai national identification cards, which gave them routine access to health and nutrition services at Thai government dispensaries, provided a basis for political representation, and presented children with the requirements for mandatory education under Thai law (Nimonjiya 2013, andLong, Long, andWaters 2013). ...
... Mortality in Ban Bunyuen, 2002-2013 ...
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The Mla Bri of northern Thailand are a small group of hunter-gatherers who settled into settlements in the late twentieth century. One of the four places they settled was Ban Bunyuen. In 2013, a demographic survey of the settlement was undertaken. This was combined with mortality data from the last 15 years to describe the changing demgraphics, and growth of this small population.
... 3 This chapter draws on sections from the author's dissertation manuscript and represents a revision of an initial conceptualization of animist collectivity as the social ontology of everyday life in Thailand's rural northeast . 4 This also explains why 'the Mlabri,' hunter and gatherers living in the forest, were classified as ghost-like beings (phi thong lueang) (Nimonjiya 2013). 5 I am using life-worldy here in its social phenomenological sense, referring to the atheoretical and embodied knowledge that determines the meaningfulness of the everyday world and which, because of its embodiment, can usually not be explicated by actors themselves. ...
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Precolonial Southeast Asian social formations are frequently described as ‘cosmic’ or ‘galactic’ polities, a scholarly classification emphasizing a parallelism of macrocosm and microcosm characterizing conceptions of state and kingship in the region. There is an ongoing debate in Southeast Asian studies as to whether the Tai mueang, with its emphasis of hierarchical encompassment as organizational logic, is merely a ruling ideology and whether it was shared by those collectives that the ruling center imagined as peripheral. This chapter draws on this debate to propose an alternative reading of the mueang. Reading the mueang as a social ontology, the chapter attempts to utilize the conceptual framework outlined in the second and third chapters of this volume for an epistemic decolonization of the debate in Southeast Asian studies through an emphasis of the role non-humans have for an understanding of Tai conceptualizations of collectivity. The chapter introduces animist collectivity as the essential form of social being in the language game of the mueang, and traces its practical meaningfulness throughout Thai history, up to the present.
... 3 This chapter draws on sections from the author's dissertation manuscript and represents a revision of an initial conceptualization of animist collectivity as the social ontology of everyday life in Thailand's rural northeast . 4 This also explains why 'the Mlabri,' hunter and gatherers living in the forest, were classified as ghost-like beings (phi thong lueang) (Nimonjiya 2013). 5 I am using life-worldy here in its social phenomenological sense, referring to the atheoretical and embodied knowledge that determines the meaningfulness of the everyday world and which, because of its embodiment, can usually not be explicated by actors themselves. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Most theories trying to explain social inequalities, their persistence, and their reproduction in the contemporary world presume, just as their commonsensical analogues in Western popular media and politics, that the capitalist transformation includes a radical break with the past. This volume challenges this scholarly common sense by tracing how historically older forms of social inequality are transformed but persist in the present to shape the social structure of contemporary societies. This chapter outlines the theoretical approach applied by all authors of this edited volume. It introduces and discusses the main theoretical concepts: social ontology, socioculture, and social inequality. We draw on established theories of sociology and philosophy, but link them to discussions in anthropology and area studies, and in societies of the global South.
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