Good attachment in the Asian highlands: questioning notions of “loose women” and “autonomous communities”

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Abstract

As part of the national consolidation of Thailand in the early twentieth century, various hinterland populations were actively marginalized and dispossessed. Anthropology and other scholarship normalized this racialized dispossession through notions of highland people’s essential difference from lowland society. Two fantasies in particular cemented notions of highland otherness: ethnographic notions of autonomous and egalitarian ethnic communities, and heterosexual male notions of sexually loose and available non-Thai women. A comparative and regional approach to sexuality and politics suggests a very different reality. Across Southeast Asia, certain customs suggest a shared focus on the benefits of being well attached across differences, for women and for communities. Such customs have been obscured by anthropological and other convictions about culture and ethnicity. This case insists on the importance of customs that have encouraged good attachment and the negotiation of diversity, as common across Southeast Asia and as also shaped by the human bio-cultural evolutionary heritage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-428
Number of pages26
JournalCritical Asian Studies
Volume52
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020

Keywords

  • Anthropology
  • evolution
  • history
  • politics
  • sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

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