ICAS Publications Series Monographs

Space and the Production of Cultural Difference among the Akha Prior to Globalization: Channeling the Flow of Life

Deborah E. Tooker

Based on the author’s extensive fieldwork among the Akha people prior to full nation-state integration, this illuminating study critically re-examines assumptions about space, power, and the politics of identity, so often based on modern, western contexts. Tooker explores the active role that spatial practices (and their indigenous link to a ‘life force’) have played in maintaining cultural autonomy in an historically migratory, multiethnic context. Space and the Production of Cultural Difference Among the Akha Prior to Globalization: Channeling the Flow of Life expands current debates about power relations in the region from a mostly political and economic framework into the domains of ritual, cosmology, and indigenous meaning and social systems. Relying on decades of fieldwork, this brilliant book focuses primarily on the myriad ways in which the Akha conceptual construction of space provided these tribal people with a sense of their own cosmic power and centrality, despite their actual political weakness and marginality.

Deborah E. Tooker is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York and is a Faculty Associate in Research with Cornell University’s Southeast Asia Program.

This exemplary work is not only a moving evocation of a unique culture, it is also a sophisticated re-examination of the multiple meanings of ‘center’ and ‘periphery’ in Southeast Asian studies, and in anthropological theory.
Charles Lindholm, University Professor of Anthropology, Boston University