Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Art of Not Being Governed

I've not read this yet, but it is one book which is going on my new year reading list: James Scott: The Art of Not Being Governed, recently reviewed in The Boston Globe by Drake Bennett. Its about an area of Asia which has been given the name of Zomia - a 'rugged swath of Asia that for 2,000 years has remained culturally aloof from the traditional centers of power and the pull of empires. Its inhabitants, Asia’s “hill people,” have earned a reputation for egalitarianism, insurrection, and independence'.

From Drake's review:
'In Zomia’s small societies, with their simple technologies, anti-authoritarian tendencies, and oral cultures, Scott sees not a world forgotten by civilization, but one that has been deliberately constructed to keep the state at arm’s length. Zomia’s history, Scott argues, is a rejection of the mighty lowland states that are seen as defining Asia. He calls Zomia a “shatter zone,” a place where people go to escape the raw deal that complex civilization historically has been for those at the bottom: the coerced labor and conscription into military service, the taxation for wars and pharaonic building projects, the epidemic diseases that came with intensive agriculture and animal husbandry.'

Its a fascinating subject - articulately reviewed.

Read the full review here: