Dwelling in the highland areas of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), and southwest China are hundreds of ethnic groups known as 'tribes' in popular literature. Some groups number barely more than one hundred, others millions. Together their population adds up to 80 million, more than any of the countries (bar China) they inhabit, yet in each they are designated and treated as "minorities." They have been forced to dwell in the highlands while their enemies have occupied the more fertile lowlands. This, coupled with the fact that they are so little known abroad and even at home, has caused their way of life and cultural distinctions to come in jeopardy. This book offers hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on about 200 groups, the six countries they live in, some of their leaders, and their political, economic, social, cultural and religious aspects. The chronology covers important events. The introduction discusses both the diversities and similarities of the groups' ethnicities, languages, religious practices, and customs. The bibliography supplements the dictionary entries.
About the Author
Jean Michaud is professor of anthropology at Université Laval, Canada. He has published extensively on the societies of the Southeast Asian Massif and taught about them in the United Kingdom, France and Canada. His latest books, Moving Mountains: Highland Livelihoods and Ethnicity in China, Vietnam and Laos (UBC Press, 2010, co-edited with Tim Forsyth) and 'Incidental' Ethnographers. French Catholic Missions on the Frontier of Tonkin and Yunnan, 1880-1930 (Brill, 2007) address the current and past condition of these societies on the margins.