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Pioneers of the plantation economy: militarism, dispossession, and the limits of growth in the Wa State of Myanmar

Steinmüller, Hans (2021) Pioneers of the plantation economy: militarism, dispossession, and the limits of growth in the Wa State of Myanmar. Social Anthropology. ISSN 1469-8676

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1469-8676.13009

Abstract

The characteristic mobility of highland populations in Southeast Asia relied to a large extent on their particular adaption to an ecological environment: swidden cultivation of tubers on mountain slopes. This ecology corresponded to cosmologies in which potency was limitless, or at least had no fixed and delimited precinct (as did the rice paddies and Buddhist realms in the valleys). Military state building, modern transport, and new crops and agricultural technologies have effectively ended swidden cultivation. In this article, I follow the pioneers of the plantation economy in the Wa State of Myanmar, who dispossess local populations of their land and employ them as plantation labour. The limits of growth and potency they encounter are (a) in the natural environment and (b) in the resistance of local populations. Yet, even though there are such limits, the potency to which these pioneers aspire is still limitless. It is however channelled through a new economy of life, epitomised in the plantation, nourished in excessive feasting, and maintained by the kinship dynamics of capture and care.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/14698676
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2020 09:30
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 02:42
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/107010

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