1st Edition

Routledge Handbook of Highland Asia

Edited By Jelle J. P. Wouters, Michael T. Heneise Copyright 2023
    484 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Routledge Handbook of Highland Asia is the first comprehensive and critical overview of the ethnographic and anthropological work in Highland Asia over the past half a century. Opening up a grand new space for critical engagement, the handbook presents Highland Asia as a world-region that cuts across the traditional divides inherited from colonial and Cold War area divisions - the Indian Subcontinent/South Asia, Southeast Asia, China/East Asia, and Central Asia.

    Thirty-two chapters assess the history of research, identify ethnographic trends, and evaluate a range of analytical themes that developed in particular settings of Highland Asia. They cover varied landscapes and communities, from Kyrgyzstan to India, from Bhutan to Vietnam and bring local voices and narratives relating trade and tribute, ritual and resistance, pilgrimage and prophecy, modernity and marginalization, capital and cosmos to the fore. The handbook shows that for millennia, Highland Asians have connected far-flung regions through movements of peoples, goods and ideas, and at all times have been the enactors, repositories, and mediators of world-historical processes. Taken together, the contributors and chapters subvert dominant lowland narratives by privileging primarily highland vantages that reveal Highland Asia as an ecumune and prism that refracts and generates global history, social theory, and human imagination. In the currently unfolding Asian Century, this compels us to reorient and re-envision Highland Asia, in ethnography, in theory, and in the connections between this world-region, made of hills, highlands and mountains, and a planetary context.

    The handbook reveals both regional commonalities and diversities, generalities and specificities, and a broad orientation to key themes in the region. An indispensable reference work, this handbook fills a significant gap in the literature and will be of interest to academics, researchers and students interested in Highland Asia, Zomia Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Politics, Conceptual History and Sociology, Southeast Asian Studies, Central Asian Studies and South Asian Studies as well as Asian Studies in general.

    1. Introduction: Highland Asia as a World Region – Jelle J.P. Wouters and Michael T. Heneise Section 1: Sino-Tibetan mountains 2. The Middle Highlands of Modern China as a Historical Inter-Asian Zomia: Human-Nature Diversity in the Hengduan Mountains -- Dan Smyer Yü 3. Human-nonhuman relations in the making of place in Kham – Gillian G. Tan 4. Amdo: Social landscapes and change - Eveline Washul 5. The Tibetan Frontier:From Regional Boundaries to Disputed Borders – Nadine Plachta & Galen Murton Section 2: Central Asian Mountains and Western Himalaya 6. The Uyghurs:Conceptual Highlanders of Xinjiang- Ildikó Bellér-Hann 7. Kyrgyzstan: Relating to land, nation and territory - Nienke van der Heide 8. Pamirs at the crossroads - Hermann Kreutzmann 9. Islam in the Trans-Himalayan Ecumene – Radhika Gupta Section 3: Central Himalaya 10. Forming Communities and Negotiating Power in a Highland Borderland: The Bhotiya on the Indo-Tibet Border - Subhadra Mitra Channa 11. Infrastructures of change: Development among pastoralists in Dolpo, Nepal (1990–2020)- Phurwa Gurung & Kenneth Bauer 12. Nepal Central Highland: Resistance and the state – Mukta S. Tamang 13. Ethnographies of the Sherpas in the High Himalaya: Themes, Trajectories, and Beyond – Pasang Yangjee Sherpa Section 4: Eastern Himalaya 14. Ethnic Belonging and the Reinvention of Tradition in Eastern Nepal - Martin Gaenszle 15. The Desire to be ‘Primitive’: The Nepalis of Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalayas and Claims for Tribal Recognition - Tanka B. Subba 16. Bhutan: History, Scholarship and Emerging Agency in the Bhutanese Narrative- Yedzin Wangmo Tobgay 17. Arunachal Pradesh: from a nonstate space to a contested state space - Zilpa Modi Section 5: Bengal-Indo-Burma highlands 18. Highlanders and lowlanders in Bangladesh: reflections on borders, connectivity and disconnection in highland Asia – Ellen Bal & Nasrin Siraj 19. Peopling the Yunnan-Bengal corridor: An ethnographic history of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo people – David Zou 20. The uplanders of Tripura: changing questions of identity – Harirar Bhattacharyya 21. Migration narratives and ritual regeneration among the Karbi and Tiwa of Highland Assam – Dharamsing Teron & Manas J. Bordoloi 22. Rethinking Ethnographies on Garo Hills – Erik de Maaker 23. Ethnic attachments and alterations among Nagas in the Indo-Myanmar borderland – G. Kanato Chophy 24. Gendering Kachinland: Challenging the gender blindness of an ethnographic area in Highland Asia – Mandy Sadan & Ja Htoi Pan Maran Section 6: Southeast Asia Massif 25. The Wa of the Burma-China borderlands: Identities and polities in the maelstrom of world-system cycles -- Magnus Fiskesjö 26. Karen –Mobile Peopleswith Prophetic Movements in Myanmar & Thailand – Mikael Gravers 27. The Uplands of Northern Thailand: Language and Social Relations beyond the Muang – Nathan Badenoch 28. Animism and cosmological dynamics in Highland Laos – Guido Sprenger 29. From ‘Slaves’ to Indigenous Peoples: Shifting Identities in Northeastern Cambodia – Ian G. Baird 30. On both sides of the Annamese Cordilleras. The Bru of Vietnam and Laos - Gábor Vargyas 31. Remoteness and connectivity: the variegated geographies of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau – Tim Oakes and Zuo Zhenting 32. Ethnography in the Northern Vietnamese Highlands – Jean Michaud


    Jelle J.P. Wouters is Senior Lecturer at the Royal Thimphu College, Bhutan. Previously he taught at Sikkim Central University and was a visiting faculty at Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Germany. He is the author of In the Shadows of Naga Insurgency (2018) and Nagas as a Society Against Voting and Other Essays (2020).

    Michael T. Heneise is Associate Professor in Religious Studies at The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) and Director of the Highland Institute. He has conducted anthropological research in the Andes of South America, and in Eastern Himalaya. He is the author of Agency and Knowledge in Northeast India (Routledge, 2018) is Co-Editor of the journals Himalaya and Highlander.