Ethnic Minorities and Identity Politics

  • General description

    This course aims to introduce the concept of ethnic identity seen from the essentialist and constructionist point of view. It will discuss different ways in which modern nation-states in Southeast Asia have dealt with ethnic minorities in each country.
    It will examine the relationship between state and ethnic minorities in the context of development and modernization (globalization) and how the ethnic minorities have responded to changes initiated by state policy and market. 
    Focus will be placed on how ethnic minorities reconstruct their identity through different tactics, i.e. cultural, social, and economic capital as well as dealing with conflicts and tension from state policies and globalization.
    The course aims to broaden the issues of identity politics from ethnic identity to other forms of social identities. It will examine how identity is defined and how societies use these constructions for nation-building, welfare distribution and economic development. The issues of indigenous and other forms of identity-based movements will also be discussed.
  • Main themes

  • Teaching and learning methodology

  • Assessment methods and criteria

    1)    Class participation and discussion (20%) – (1) each student will bring to class a 1-2 page summary of the required reading (choose only one article for a week) (2) each student will take turn to lead class discussion: class discussion should organize by briefly presenting the paper’s argument(s), followed by your questions regarding theoretical framework, methodology used in the paper, and other related issues.  
    2)    Midterm report (30%) on field trip studies, as assigned by instructors.
    3)   Term paper (50%) on ethnic minorities or identity politics issues using concepts and understanding from the reading material.
  • Required reading

    Main text: 
    John, Hutchinson, and Anthony D. Smith (eds.) 1996. Ethnicity. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

    Week 2 - Concepts of Ethnicity
    Required Readings:
    1. John, Hutchinson, and Anthony D. Smith (eds.). 1996. “Introduction” and “Section I: Concepts of Ethnicity,” pp. 3-31.
    2. Symposium in ASPA – Comparative Politics. Newsletter of the Organized Section in Comparative Politics of the American Political Science Association. 2001. “Cumulative findings in the Studies of Ethnic Politics.” 12(1): 7-22.  

    Suggested Readings:
    1. Geertz, Clifford. 1973 “The Integrative Revolution: Primordial Sentiments and Civil Politics in the New States” The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books, pp.255-269.
    2. Eriksen, Thomas Hylland. 1993. “What is Ethnicity.” Ethnicity & Nationalism: Anthropological Perspectives. Pluto Press.
    3. Hale, Henry. 2004. “Explaining ethnicity” Comparative Political Studies 37(4): 458-485.

    Week 3 - Theories of Ethnicity and contemporary issue
    Required Readings:
    1. John, Hutchinson, and Anthony D. Smith (eds.). 1996. “Section II: Theories of Ethnicity,” pp. 33-56.
    2. John, Hutchinson, and Anthony D. Smith (eds.). 1996. “Section II: Theories of Ethnicity,” pp. 57-75.

    Suggested Readings:
    1. Jenkins, Richard.2002. “Imagined but not imaginary: Ethnicity and nationalism in the modern world” in Jeremy MacClancy (ed.) Exotic No More. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
    2. Bauman, Zygmunt. 2001. “Identity in the globalising world” Social Anthropology 9(2): 121-129.

    Week 4 – Ethnic Classification and contemporary issues
    Required Readings:
    1. Keyes, Charles. 2002. “Presidential address: ‘The peoples of Asia’- science and politics in the classification of ethnic groups in Thailand, China, and Vietnam” The Journal of Asian Studies 61(4): 1163-1203.
    2. Fee, Lian Kwen and Ananda Rajah. 1993. “The ethnic mosaic” in Grant Evans (ed.) Asia’s Cultural Mosaic: an Anthropological Introduction, pp. 235-247. New York and London: Prentice Hall.

    Suggested Readings:
    1. Lehman, F.K. 1967. “Ethnic categories in Burma and the theories of social system” in Peter Kunstadter (ed.) Southeast Asian Tribes, Minorities, and Nations, Vol. I. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    2. Gladney, Dru C. 1994. “Representing nationality in China: Refiguring majority/minority identities” Journal of Asian Studies 53(1): 92–123.
    3. Gladney, Dru C. 2003. Ethnic Identity in China: The Making of a Muslim Minority Nationality. BelFrit, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Chapter 1 and 2, pp. 11-55.

    Week 5 – Ethnic boundary and identity
    Required Readings:
    1. Barth, Fredrik. 1969. “Introduction” Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: the    
    Social Organization of Cultural Difference, pp. 9-38. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.  
    2. Chandra, Kanchan. 2006. “What is ethnic identity and does it matter? Annual Review of Political Science 9(1): 397-424.
    Suggested Readings:
    1. Moerman, Michael. 1965. “Ethnic identification in a complex civilization: Who are the Lue?” American Anthropologist 67(5): 1215-1230.
    2. Keyes, Charles F. 1995. “Who are the Tai? reflection on the invention of      identities” in Lola Romanucci-Ross and George DeVos (eds.) Ethnic Identity: Creation, Conflicts and Accommodation, pp. 136-160. Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press.
    Week 6 – Ethnicity and identity politics
    Required Readings:
    1. Bernstein, Mary. 2005. “Identity politics” Annual Review of Sociology 31(1): 47-74.
    2. Taylor, H. Robert. 2005. “Do states make nations? The politics of identity in Myanmar revisited” South East Asia Research 13(3): 261-286.
    Suggested Readings:
    1. Gravers, Mikael. 2007. “Introduction: Ethnicity against state – state against ethnic diversity?” Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma, pp. 1-33. Copenhagen: Danish Research Council for the Humanities.
    2. Charles Hirschman. 1995. “Ethnic Diversity and Change in Southeast Asia,” in Calvin Goldscheider (ed.) Population, Ethnicity and Nation Building, pp. 19-36. Boulder: Westview Press.  

    Week 7 - Ethnicity from Historical Perspective
    Required Readings:
    1. Leach, Edmund R. 1954. Political Systems of Highland Burma: A Study of Kachin Social Structure. Boston: Beacon Press.
    2. Eriksen, Thomas Hylland. 1993. “Ethnicity in History” Ethnicity & Nationalism: Anthropological Perspectives. Pluto Press.

    Week 8 – Ethnic Minorities, State and Development
    Required Readings:
    1. Harrell, Stevan. 1995. “Introduction: Civilizing Projects and the Reactions to them” Cultural Encounters on China’s Ethnic Frontiers, pp. 1-36. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
    2. McCargo, Duncan. 2011. “Informal citizens: graduated citizenship in Southern Thailand” Ethnic and Racial Studies 34(5): 833-849.

    Suggested Readings:
    1. McCaskill, Don. 1997. “From Tribal Peoples to Ethnic Minorities: The Transformation of Indigenous People”, in Don McCaskill and Ken Kempe (eds.) Development or Domestication: Indigenous Peoples of Southeast Asia, pp. 26-60. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books.
    2. Gravers, Mikael. 2008. “Moving from the Edge: Karen Strategies of Modernizing Tradition” in Prasit Leepreecha, Don McCaskill, and Khwanchewan Buadaeng (eds.) Challenging the Limits: Indigenous Peoples of the Mekong Region, pp.143-180. Chiang Mai: Mekong Press.
    3. Salemink, Oscar. 1997. “The King of Fire and Vietnamese Ethnic Policy in Central Highland” in Development or Domestication: Indigenous Peoples of Southeast Asia, edited by McCaskill, Don and Kempe, Ken (eds.), pp. 26-60. Chiang Mai: Silkworms.
    4. Kammerer, Cornelia Ann. 1989. “Territorial Imperatives: Akha Ethnic Identity and Thailand’s National Integration” in John McKinnon and B. Vienne (eds.) Hill TribesToday: Problem in Change, pp. 259-301. Bangkok: White Lotus-Ostrom Press.

    Week 9 - Ethnicity in the modern world  
    Required Readings:
    1. Shah, Bindi. 2007. “Being young, female and Laotian: Ethnicity as social capital at the intersection of gender, generation, ‘race’ and age” Ethnic and Racial Studies 30(1): 28-50.
    2. Toyota, Mika. 2003. “Contested Chinese identities among ethnic minorities in the China, Burma and Thai borderlands” Ethnic and Racial Studies 26(2): 301-320.

    Suggested Readings:
    1. Bauman, Zygmunt. 2001. “Identity in the globalising world” Social Anthropology 9(2): 121-129.
    2. Wen-Chin Chang. 2000. “From war refugees to immigrants: The case of the KMT Yunnanese Chinese in Northern Thailand” International Migration Review 35(4): 1086-1105.
    3. Clifford, James. 1994. “Diasporas” Cultural Anthropology 9(3): 302-338.
    4. Safran, William. 1991. “Diasporas in modern societies: Myths of homeland and return” Diaspora 1(1): 83-99.
    5. Mckeown, Adam. 1999. “Conceptualizing Chinese diaspora, 1842–1949” Journal of Asian studies 58(2): 306–337.
    6. Rex, John .1997. “The Nature of Ethnicity in the Project of Migration” in Guibernau, Fritserrat and John Rex (eds.) The Ethnicity Reader: Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Migration, pp. 267-274. Cambridge: Polity Press.

    Week 10 - The Politics of Belonging
    Required Readings:
    1. McCargo, Duncan. 2011. “Informal citizens: graduated citizenship in Southern Thailand” Ethnic and Racial Studies 34(5): 833-849.
    2. Vail, Peter. 2007. “Thailand’s Khmer as ‘invisible minority’: Language, ethnicity and cultural politics in North-Eastern Thailand” Asian Ethnicity 8(2): 111-129.

    Suggested Reading:
    1. Kawakami, Ikuo. 2003. “Resettlement and border crossing: A comparative study on the life and ethnicity of Vietnamese in Australia and Japan” International Journal of Japanese Sociology 12: 48-67.
    2. McCarthy, Susan. 2000. “Ethno-Religious Mobilization and Citizenship Discourse in the People’s Republic of China” Asian Ethnicity 1(2): 107-116.
    3. Thongchai Winichakul. 2000. “The Others Within: Travel and Ethno-Spatial Differentiation of Siamese Subjects 1885-1910” in Civility and Savagery: Social Identity in Tai States, Andrew Turton (ed.), pp. 38-62. Surrey: Curzon Press.
    4. Chee-Beng, Tan. 2000. “Ethnic identities and national identities: Some examples from Malaysia identities”Global Studies in Culture and Power 6(4): 441-480.

    Week 11 - Religious Conversion and Ethnic Identity
    Required Readings:
    1. Kammerer, Cornelia Ann. 1996. “Discarding the basket: The reinterpretation of tradition by Akha Christians of Northern Thailand” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 27(2): 320-333.
    2. Hayami, Yoko. 1996. “Karen tradition according to Christ or Buddha: The implications of multiple reinterpretations for a minority ethnic group in Thailand” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 27(2): 334-349.

    Suggested readings:
    1. Li, Haiying. 2012. (Neo)Traditionalist Movements: A Case Study of a Multi-Religious Akha Community in Northern Thailand. Paper presented at the ICIRC International Conference, 26-27 July 2012, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
    2. Gravers, Mikael. 2008. “Conversion and Identity: Religion and the Formation of Ethnic Karen Identity in Burma”, Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Burma, pp. 227-258. Copenhagen: NIAS Press.
    3. Platz, Roland. 2003. “Buddhism and Christianity in competition? Religious and ethnic identity in Karen communities of Northern Thailand” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 34(3): 473-490.
    4. Kammerer, Cornelia Ann. 1990. “Customs and Christian conversion among Akha highlanders of Burma and Thailand” American Ethnologist 17(2): 277-291.
    5. Tapp, Nicholas. 1989. “The impact of missionary Christianity upon marginalized ethnic minorities: The case of the Hmong” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 20(1): 70-95.
    Week 12 - Ethnic Tourism
      Film: Cannibal Tour
    Required Readings:
    1. Prasit Leepreecha. 2005. The Politics of Ethnic Tourism in Northern Thailand. Paper presented at the Workshop on “Mekong Tourism: Learning Across Borders” organized by the Social Research Institute, Chiang Mai University, 25 February 2005.   
    2. Cohen, Erik. 2016. “Ethnic tourism in mainland Southeast Asia: the state of the art” Tourism Recreation Research 1-15.  
    Suggested readings:
    1. Oakes, Timothy S. 1996. Ethnic Tourism in Rural Guizhou: A Sense of Place and the Commerce of Authenticity,” in Tourism, Ethnicity and the State in Asian and Pacific Societies, edited by Micheal Picard and Robert E. Wood. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 35-70.
    2. Cohen, Erik. 1988. “Authenticity and commoditization in tourism” Annals of Tourism Research 15: 371-386.
    3. Wood, Robert E. 1998. “Touristic ethnicity: A brief itinerary” Ethnic and Racial Studies 21(2): 218-241.

    Week 13 - Multicultural Society
    Required Readings:
    1. Kymlica, Will. 2012. Multiculturalism: Success, Failure, and the Future. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.
    2. Ahmad, Zaid. 2007. “Multiculturalism and religio-ethnic plurality: The Malaysian experience” Culture and Religion 8(12): 139-153.
    3. Rosado, Caleb. 1996. “Toward a Definition of Multiculturalism,”

    Week 14 - Indigenous People & Wrap-up
    Required Readings:
    1. Cornstassel, Jeef L. 2008. “Who is Indigenous?” in Christian Erni (ed.) The Concept of IndigenousPeoples in Asia: A Resource Book, pp. 51-76. Copenhagen/Chiang Mai. IWGIA Document No. 123.
    2. Bourdier, Frederic. 2008. “Indigenous Populations in a Cultural Perspective: The Paradox of Development in Southeast Asia” Anthropos 103: 1-12. 

Last updated: 18 August 2017

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