Smyer Yü, Dan & Jean Michaud (eds) 2017. Trans-Himalayan Borderlands: Livelihoods, Territorialities, Modernities. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press

Talk on the book at UC, Berkeley


“This book offers a diverse collection of fascinating case studies that, taken together, present a transboundary approach that challenges the ‘trait geographies’ upon which much area studies is still based.” Tim Oakes, University of Colorado, Boulder

“This is an excellent collection of original works. It makes an important contribution to transboundary studies and a dialogic approach to spatial and social processes in and beyond Asia.” Li Zhang, University of California, Davis


cover_hd-peopleslitho_002Michaud, Jean; Meenaxi B. Ruscheweyh, and Margaret B. Swain, 2016. Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the South-East Asian Massif. Second Edition. Lanham • Boulder • New York • London: Rowman & Littlefield. 594p.


“Nearly 300 ethnic groups totaling around 100 million persons living as “persistently ignored minorities” in 10 different countries (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, Taiwan and Malaysia) are covered with their linguistic, demographic, socio-cultural, economic and religious peculiarities in more than 700 cross-referenced entries. Practically most of the entries are new: if not brand new, updated and in many cases expanded. […] There is an incredible wealth of information in these entries. It is enough to read the ones on “Affirmative action”, “Hmong”, “Institute of Anthropology of Vietnam”, “Khun Sa”, “Laos, Highland minorities in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic”, “Strategic hamlets in Vietnam”, “Territoires militaires” or “Yunnan”, to name but a few, in order to grasp the importance of this Historical Dictionary.[…] A most useful reference book, a must for anybody interested in the vast “Zomian” region.”  Gábor Vargyas, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in Acta Ethnographica Hungarica


cover_jacket_final_allTurner, Sarah, Christine Bonnin and Jean Michaud, 2015. Frontier Livelihoods: Hmong in the Sino-Vietnamese Borderlands. Seattle: University of Washington Press.


“Frontier livelihoods is a highly sophisticated account and analysis of the integration of trans-border Hmong minorities into the wider economic maelstrom that engulfs them, yet does not necessarily overwhelm or destroy them.” Magnus Fiskesjö, Cornell U. (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute)

This volume is certainly required reading for any scholar of the region. But it is of much wider value also for any scholar or student engaging with the analysis of economic development, rural livelihoods or the adaptation strategies of communities. It is a fine example of how in-depth ethnography of local practices and conditions provides insights that ought to be attended to on a much broader level. I will certainly be making this required reading for all my future postgraduate students who arrive (as they often do) thinking that ‘the livelihoods framework’ is an appropriate way to capture how people make their living, or that the use of any development ‘model’ can supplant the rich diversity of activities through which local communities thrive.” Katharine McKinnon, La Trobe U. (The Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography)

“Frontier Livelihoods is a model example of a cross-border study on culturally specific actororiented approaches to livelihoods, everyday politics and the indigenisation of modernity. Although these three scholars have published widely elsewhere, the triangulation of their skills, experiences, knowledge and resources in this book presents the culmination of long-term ethnographic research with the Hmong in this region.” Lona´n O´ Briain, U. of Nottingham (South East Asia Research)

Frontier Livelihoods is one of the first books to systematically analyze the recent history of the same ethnic group in Vietnam and China. It is particularly valuable because it explores reactions to different policies with respect to ‘development’ in minority communities on both sides of the border. In addition, the analyses of commodities, from alcohol to buffaloes to cardamom, makes for fascinating reading.” Stevan Harrell, U. of Washington.

A highly readable and informative account of local economies under pressure from both market and state forces. This is a wonderful record of the realities of everyday decision-making among an ethnic minority in the borderlands between two socialist nation-states, presenting the full complexity of social and cultural contexts in which livelihood decisions are taken. It shows a diversity of indigenous responses to modernization, and will shed new light on our understandings of the workings of local agency at the margins of power and domination.” Nicholas Tapp, Australian National U.


cover_ubc_2010Michaud, Jean & Tim Forsyth (eds), 2011. Moving Mountains: Ethnicity and Livelihoods in highland China, Vietnam and Laos. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.


Moving Mountains manages the rare feat of bringing together a fine-tooth comb ethnography of upland peoples on the one hand with a theoretical and conceptual subtlety about the reach and limits of state power on the other. It becomes, on the spot, the indispensable source for understanding the socialist margins of Southeast Asia.” James C. Scott, Political Science, Yale U.

This is a first class edited study of the ethnic upland minorities who live in what the editors label “the Southeast Asian massif.” It is a scholarly, timely study that makes an important contribution to the general literature on indigenous peoples strategies in the face to the “developmentalism” of the national state.” Terry McGee, Geography, U. of British Columbia.

Both Michaud and Forsyth have made their marks as iconoclasts of highland change. True to form, then, this book is much more than a collection of individually interesting case studies. All the chapters have one thing in common: a desire to personalise economic and social transformations, and thus to disrobe ‘development’ of its technocratic clothing — to venacularise modernity.” Jonathan Rigg, Geography, Durham U. (Journal of Southeast Asian Studies).


brill_2007.jpgMichaud, Jean. 2007. ‘Incidental’ Ethnographers. French Catholic Missions on the Tonkin-Yunnan Frontier, 1880-1930. Leiden & Boston, Brill Academic Publishers, 280p.


This is an amazing piece of work, a real tour de force. It is an invaluable resource for those of us working on MEP, Catholic missionizing in general, and anyone studying the history of colonial Vietnam & Yunnan.” Margaret Swain, U. of California at Davis.

Jean Michaud has done a great service to the history of anthropology with his meticulously researched account. Through his own contemporary anthropological work in that region, Michaud is eminently qualified for the task, and the reader gets a vivid sense of the author’s dedication.” Jan Ovesen, U. d’Uppsala (ASEASUK News)

“L’ouvrage est une précieuse contribution à l’histoire de l’ethnologie de l’Asie du Sud-Est. Fondé sur un imposant travail documentaire, il fait la synthèse à la fois des avancées et des limites de cette ethnographie pionnière, met parfaitement en relief son empirisme, son manque d’ouverture ainsi que le jeu des contraintes institutionnelles et idéologiques à l’origine de tels défauts.” Bernard Formoso, U. de Paris X – Nanterre (Anthropologie et Sociétés).

This is an excellent and expert engagement with the study of colonial missionary ethnography. […] The French colonial imagination of its significant others in the Vietnamese highlands has long demanded a serious and sober consideration and Michaud has performed a valuable service in drawing this body of material to the attention of the English-speaking world.” Nicholas Tapp, Australian National U. (Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde).


coverscarecrow.jpgMichaud, Jean. 2006. Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the South-East Asian Massif. Lanham (Maryland), Scarecrow Press, 355p.


The Historical Dictionary of the Peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif by Jean Michaud is an indispensable source of information about these peoples. It is a welcome and necessary resource for library collections specializing in Southeast Asian studies.” Dahlia Shamsuddin, National Library Board of Singapore (in Reference Reviews).

I find this book to be very well researched and organized and it should be an important and useful reference work in the library of anyone with interests in Asia.” Michael Howard, Simon Fraser University (in Pacific Affairs)

Ouvrage, clair, synthétique et stimulant et d’intérêt pour tous ceux, étudiants, chercheurs ou professionnels du développement, amenés à travailler avec les populations montagnardes d’Asie du Sud-Est.” Olivier Évrard, IRD (in A&S).


cover_hmongmiao.jpgTapp, Nic, Jean Michaud, Christian Culas, Gary Yia Lee (eds) 2004. Hmong/Miao in Asia.Chiang Mai (Thailand): Silkworm, 500p.


“Hmong/Miao in Asia is a commendably explicit effort to address contemporary upland minority social issues in the context of an evolving transnational identity.[…] This book has set the stage for the growth of influential Hmong/Miao commentary on the challenges and opportunities faced by minority groups.” Nathan Badenoch, Chiang Mai University.

This first collective book on Hmong and other Miao is much of a portal opening on a wide new world of modern Asian ethnicities.” Jacques Lemoine, CNRS France.


cover_turbulent.jpgJean Michaud (ed.) 2000. Turbulent Times and Enduring Peoples. The Mountain Minorities of the South-East Asian Massif. London: Curzon Press, 255p.


“Turbulent Times and Enduring Peoples proves to be valuable to the study of mainland Southeast Asian communities, upland people in particular. This kind of essay collection deserves academic attention and, I hope, there will be more like it soon.” Niti Pawakapan, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.

The volume is successful in drawing attention to the need for far more work, historical, social/political and economic on the situation of the underprivileged montagnards throughout the region.” Ian Livingstone.

The publication of Turbulent Times and Enduring Peoples […] has enriched the study of the cultures and histories of the so-called minority peoples of the Southeast Asian massif.” Volker Grabowsky, Universität Hamburg.