The region of Zomia had not been mapped for very long when people started quarreling over it. Political scientists, historians, geographers, anthropologists, and especially Southeast Asianists. Even a few anarchists weighed in.
Much of the most recent debate has been spurred by the Yale University professor of political science and anthropology James C. Scott, who describes the region in his latest book, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (Yale University Press, 2009).
…Zomia does not appear on any official map, for it is merely metaphorical. Scott identifies it as “the largest remaining region of the world whose peoples have not yet been fully incorporated into nation-states.”
…Scott’s argument that the purpose of state-making is about control of manpower, and not just territory, is one that will resonate a long while, [Anne L. Clunan, director of the Center on Contemporary Conflict at the Naval Postgraduate School] says in an interview, noting that she is expressing her own views and not those of the U.S. government.
“It is a necessary corrective to the predominantly benign view of state-building,” she says. Scott’s book demonstrates that “the state itself can be harmful and despotic.”