What’s (written) history for? On James C. Scott’s Zomia, especially Chapter 6½

Authors: Michaud, Jean
Abstract: What could still trigger a worthwhile anthropological debate now that eight years have passed since the publication of James C. Scott's The art of not being governed in 2009? In this article, the author proposes a reading involving perhaps the most controversial chapter of Scott's book: Chapter 6½ – ‘Orality, writing, and texts’. Scott means to say that the absence of literacy in a society could result from a preference rather than a deficiency. He describes a project that refuses state formation, putting to use the advantages of flexibility and adaptation that an oral tradition has over a written tradition. Drawing on the case of the Hmong, the author proposes that Scott's argument might have been made more solid had he relied less on a geographical and historically rooted definition of Zomia, and more on a discussion of cultural elements such as egalitarianism and orality.
Document Type: Article de recherche
Issue Date: 2 February 2017
Open Access Date: Restricted access
Document version: VoR
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/35195
This document was published in: Anthropology today, Vol. 33 (1), 6- 10 (2017)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8322.12322
Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
Alternative version: 10.1111/1467-8322.12322
Collection:Articles publiés dans des revues avec comité de lecture

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