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Harper, Caroline (1992) The social life of the green Mong textile : Commercialisation and alternative discourses of value in Thailand. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis examines how material culture, specifically the Mong textile, is used in society and how an analysis of these uses can inform us of social processes. Discussion takes a contextual approach whereby the object is analysed at different points in its social life, ultimately focusing on alternative discourses of value and the conflict generated between different readings and interpretations. After an introduction to the Mong textile (Chapter One) and the fieldwork community (Chapter Two) the textile is placed in village context. Through a radical analysis of women's position in the village (Chapter Three & Four) and through an examination of the textile in Mong myth and cultural use, the textile is shown to play an important role in legitimising social relations and reproducing social institutions (Chapter Five). Changes in production (Chapter Six) are part of a new commercial trade and in this form the Mong textile provides an income for Mong and specifically for women, who are shown to adopt new patterns of residence and productive relations (Chapter Seven). Varying uses and values of the textile reveal conflict, a result of differences in exposures and knowledge acquired by the Mong. One effect of conflict is fragmentation from within Mong society (Chapter Eight). The social life of the Mong textile outside of the Mong village supports a stereotypic image that is contributing to Mong assimilation in Thailand (Chapter Nine). Although a subordinate group, within Thailand the Mong are not seen to be totally dominated and the Mong textile thus becomes the focus of a battle between the Mong statement and an alternative ideology which attempts to appropriate the symbols of their material culture for a rival interpretation (Chapter Ten). In conclusion it is suggested that we should continue to reassess the place of material culture within anthropological study and learn from the different contexts of production and consumption, and the constantly changing relationship between subject and object.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:12

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