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By François Robinne, Mandy Sadan

Drawing on long-term fieldwork and study in groups from Assam via to Laos, this booklet deals a distinct point of reappraisal of the paintings of Edmund Leach and is an important contribution to the improvement of a brand new nearby anthropology of Southeast Asia.

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Extra resources for Social Dynamics in the Highlands of Southeast Asia (Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 3 Southeast Asia)

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Other clans in such a domain are then guests of clients to the rulers. In that sense, it need not astonish us that the territory, and hence the ethno-linguistic group/tribe, becomes identiÀed with the ruling clan. Yet, there is more. The ‘ritual language’ of Jinghpaw mythology is used to justify in cosmological terms the array of peoples within wunpawng. That is, in the origin myth, the Àve sons of Wahkyet Wa are the eponymous ancestors of the Àve chieÁy clans. Thence, the conÁation of tribe and clan serves to derive all of wunpawng from ‘the beginning’.

Even his preface to the book was cryptic about its origins. These origins, however, are important for the history of the social sciences because the book had such a wide impact. Working in war conditions had a particularly intense impact on Leach’s thinking. Inevitably, his understandings of Kachin-Shan political life in northern Burma would have been shaped by the tensions he witnessed in those communities and the conÁicts generated by the war. This chapter is part of a larger project that I am undertaking to explore Acknowledgements: I am very grateful for stimulating and candid conversations with Lady Celia Leach, Louisa Brown, Stephen Hugh-Jones, Alan Macfarlane, Nur Yalman, Stanley Tambiah, F.

From that experience, undertaken between 1939 and 1945, he wrote a PhD dissertation in 1947 and published his celebrated book on the political systems of the Kachin in highland Burma in 1954. Of course, this was not typical Àeldwork at all. His time in Burma was punctuated by preparations for war, followed by three years Àghting in northern Burma, where more than Àve nations had sent troops. Not only did Leach never return to Burma, he also discouraged readers and researchers from learning about the intellectual and experiential origins of his book, at least for twenty years after its publication.

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