What is the echo of Descola’s work in Southeast Asia?
Descola’s anthropology of nature opens new horizons to review Southeast Asian ethnographic materials:
- To question the place of Hindo-Buddhist societies in regard to the ontological typology he proposes. A question he did not elaborate in his comparative approach and master piece Beyond Nature and Culture1.
- To question the modes of dwelling the diverse landscapes of Southeast Asia: highland forest, plains, river deltas, sea coasts and cities.
- To question the overlapping of ontologies and knowledge systems linked to environmental management in contemporary societies.
I won’t answer these questions here, but rather give some paths for reflection linked to my own researches in Thailand and with Karen highlanders. I will :
- Question the analogical dimension of the Hindo-Buddhist concept of thammachat, which is the vernacular word used to translate the notion of nature in the Thaï context.
- Explore the overlapping between analogism and animism through the articulation between Buddhism and land spirits cults in Southeast Asia.
- DESCOLA Philippe, Beyond Nature and Culture, Translated by Janet Lloyd Foreword by Marshall Sahlins, University of Chicago Press, 2013 , 488 p. [↩]