Civilizing the Margins: Southeast Asian Government Policies for the Development of Minorities

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Edited by Christopher R. Duncan

Southeast Asian nations have devised a range of development programs that strive to incorporate minority ethnic groups into the nation-state. The authors of Civilizing the Margins discuss the programs, policies, and laws that affect ethnic minorities in eight countries: Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Once targeted for intervention, people such as the Orang Asli of Malaysia and the hill tribes of Thailand often become the subject of programs aimed at radically changing their lifestyles, which the government views as backward or primitive. Several chapters highlight the tragic consequences of forced resettlement, a common result of these programs. Others question the motives behind pushing minorities into development schemes. Rather than simply describing the effects of the programs and the experiences of participants, the contributors to this book attempt to understand the ideologies and strategies that led to the implementation of these programs.

This edition contains a new chapter outlining developments since the book was first published in 2004.


"Overall this book makes a valuable contribution to the study of the interaction of government policies, bureaucracies, bureaucrats, and various indigenous peoples. It provides a concise and readable overview of the array of government policies for indigenous minority peoples in Southeast Asia...It is also accessible to people with litte knowledge of Southeast Asia, making it useful for students interested in development and minority policies." - Nicola Tannenbaum

"This volume represents an important source for those seeking an introduction to indigenous and minority groups in the region. It should be essential reading for any student of Southeast Asian history and culture as a corrective to textbooks that seldom give more than a brief glance at national minorities." - Katharine McKinnon


Christopher R. Duncan is Associate Professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies and in the School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University. He is the author of Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia, also published in Asia by NUS Press.


Publication Year: 2008
296 pages, 229mm x 153mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-418-0, Paperback

NUS Press