This book captures the dynamics of history, memory, and territorial cults in Houay Yong, a Tai Vat village situated in the multiethnic highland frontier between Laos and Vietnam. By taking seriously the experiences of the villagers, it partakes in a broader movement to reintegrate highlanders and their agency into history at large.
Based on comprehensive fieldwork research and the examination of colonial archives, this book makes accessible, for an English-speaking audience, untapped French archives on Laos and early publications on territorial cults written by French ethnologists. In so doing, it provides a balanced perspective, drawing from the fields of memory studies and classical historical research. Following a chronological approach stretching from the nineteenth century to the present, it extends narrative analysis through a comparative ethnography of territorial cults, a key component of the performative and material presentification of the past.
Highly interdisciplinary in nature, History, Memory and Territorial Cults in the Highlands of Laos will be useful to students and scholars of anthropology, history, and religious studies, as well as Asian culture and society.
Table of Contents
2. The setting
3. Traditions on origins
4. From the French colony to the present
5. The ethnography of territorial cults
6. Territorial cults in a regional perspective
Pierre Petit is Senior Research Fellow at the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research and Professor at Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. His research interests include mobility, ethnicity, and interactions with the state among the Tai Vat of Houaphan.