Negotiating the Changing Zomia of Mainland Southeast Asia : The Politics of Akha Identity

Micah Francis Morton




In this article I offer some preliminary remarks on the results of my ongoing dissertation research on the efforts of members of the Akha minority group in Thailand to construct a more formal transborder sense of belonging among Akha in Burma, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Using a language ideologies approach, I focus on the thirteen different writing systems developed for the Akha language by various local, national and transnational actors over the past ninety years as lenses for understanding changes in Akha ethnic formations at different periods of time and in relation to multiple and shifting scales. I focus on language for two reasons. First, Akha who are directly involved in the transborder movement view the need for a unified writing system as fundamental in their project. Second, I hold that individual's beliefs and feelings about language and discourse, their language ideologies, are used to construct and represent particular social and cultural identities.


(Published in Rian Thai: International Journal of Thai Studies, Volume 3/2010, Page 97-133)


Full Text : Download