Accepted Paper:

Hunter-gatherers' sociality and sedentarization: a case study of the Mlabri in Northern Thailand  

Author:

Shu Nimonjiya (Tokyo Metropolitan University)

Paper short abstract:

The aims of this paper are to examine nomadic hunter-gatherers' sociality toward sedentarization, and to argue there is a fundamentally different thought on the implication of sedentarization between the government and the people, through an empirical case study of the Mlabri in Northern Thailand.

Paper long abstract:

Regardless positive or negative, the change from nomadic life to sedentary life has brought various impacts to nomadic hunter-gatherers' lives, but it depends not only on whether voluntary or involuntary but also on their socio-cultural, political, and economic situations what kinds of impacts affects their lives. In Northern Thailand, there are many ethnic groups, who are ethnically, culturally, and linguistically different with the lowland Thai. Most of them are traditionally known as famers, practicing swidden cultivation, but there is the only (post-) hunter-gatherers, the Mlabri. While they have been lived in Northern Thailand since the last 19th century, the Thai government officially recognized them as an ethnic group in the country and tried to sedentarize them under the name of development since the mid 1980s. The government's original plans, however, were not as good as they expected because they did not prefer to stay in one place permanently. Today, it seems that they live sedentary life on the surface, but, according to my own fieldwork, I have founded that they still have an inclination to move in various ways because it is closely associated to their sociality. Thus this paper will examine their "tactics" which is important to live as the "Mlabri" in the new lifestyle with revealing the historical background of sedentarization as the government policy, and argue that there is a fundamentally different thought on the implication of sedentarization between the government and the Mlabri to discuss the validity of sedentism.

Panel P038
Sedentarization and concentration among nomadic peoples (Commission on Nomadic Peoples/NME panel)