Southeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Frontier Mimesis: Intercultural Encounters and Interactions in Houaphan, Upland Laos

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Truman, Mezzanine Level

The rugged Lao-Vietnamese borderlands have long been a zone of refuge and encounter, of conflict and exchange. This is particularly true for the early years of French colonial expansion, when local powerbrokers of diverse ethnic origin assessed, negotiated or resisted this new power. Scrutinizing the multiethnic upland polity of Houaphan, today a province of Laos sharing a long border with Vietnam, this paper investigates local encounters and interactions across cultural difference, as well as corresponding mimetic entanglements. The concept of mimesis – understood here as interplay between mutual adaptation and appropriation – serves as heuristic tool to explore social and political relations in upland Southeast Asia from a local microperspective.

At the turn of the 20th century, French colonial administrators and missionaries, Chinese merchants and warlords, and Vietnamese soldiers formed part of a shifting network already constituted but still contested by diverse upland societies (Khmu, Hmong, Lao, and other Tai-speaking groups). Such networks implied both collaboration and anti-colonial sentiment in what decades later happened to be the first communist ‘liberated zone’ in Laos. This paper focuses on the diverse actors and encounters that shaped Houaphan’s sociopolitical configurations through processes of mimetic appropriation – a precarious interplay of alterity and identity, especially with regard to the nuances of the mutual rapprochement between colonizers and colonized-to-be. Mimetic entanglements along translocal political, economic, and cultural relationships indicate an upland-lowland continuum, connecting the smallest mountain village with local political centers in Houaphan as well as with lowland Lao and Vietnamese realms. 

Oliver Tappe

University of Cologne, Hessen, Germany

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Oliver Tappe


Assets

1 - Frontier Mimesis: Intercultural Encounters and Interactions in Houaphan, Upland Laos



Attendees who have favorited this

Please enter your access key

The asset you are trying to access is locked. Please enter your access key to unlock.

Send Email for Frontier Mimesis: Intercultural Encounters and Interactions in Houaphan, Upland Laos