China Review International: Vol. 14, No. 2, Fall 2007 Janet C. Sturgeon. Border Landscapes: The Politics of Akha Land Use in China and Thailand. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006. xi, 255 pp. Hardcover $50.00, isbn 0295985445. Whether we think of China as a heavy-handed, authoritarian state with scant concern for local variation or as a market-driven economy whose rampant development has left vast stretches of the rural hinterland impoverished, in either case upland minorities have often been shortchanged. Therefore, the conclusions of Janet Sturgeon's comparative study of two Akha villages, one in China and the other in Thailand, may come as a surprise. The Akha villagers in both nations share a cultural legacy of usufruct rights and subsistence practices in upland terrain historically marginal to wet-rice cultivation in adjacent valleys. In the mid twentieth century, Akha villagers (known as Hani in China's official lexicon for minorities) began the inevitable process of integration into national development plans that in both cases devalued their local experience and constricted their flexibility. Yet by the late 1990s, as Sturgeon was winding up her study, in the Hani village in Xishuangbanna near China's border with Burma people's incomes were rising, they had
China Review International – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Nov 28, 2008
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