James Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Sciences, Yale University
About the Seminar
Why would people choose to remain stateless? For two thousand years the disparate groups that now reside in Zomia – a mountainous region the size of Europe that consists of portions of seven Asian countries – have fled the projects of the organized state societies that surround them – slavery, conscription, taxes, corvée labor, epidemics, and warfare. The story of the peoples of Zomia and their unlikely odyssey in search of self-determination challenges our views on Asian politics, history, demographics, and even basic ideas about what constitutes civilization, and confronts us with a radically different approach to history that presents events from the perspective of stateless peoples and redefines state-making as a form of “internal colonialism.” This new perspective requires a fundamental reevaluation of the civilizational narratives of the lowland states and is applicable to other runaway, fugitive, and marooned communities, be they Gypsies, Cossacks, tribes fleeing slave raiders, Marsh Arabs, or San-Bushmen.
About the Democracy Seminar Series
The Democracy Seminar Series brings distinguished speakers to Harvard Kennedy School for the academic year to address critical challenges facing democratic governance.