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Hjorleifur Jonsson
Assistant Professor

SHESC Themes: Culture, Heritage and Identity; Global Dynamics and Regional Interactions; Biological, Social and Cultural Dimensions of Human Health

Field specializations: Ethnicity, ethnohistory, globalization, ideational studies, identity and differentiation, land use, political organization, social organization, sociocultural anthropology

Regional focus: Asia (Southeast)


About Research
I am primarily an Asianist, working in the hinterlands of Thailand, but I have also done research in Vietnam and Cambodia. My work has focused on contemporary ethnic minority peoples whose shifting cultivation and ethnic difference from mainstream societies has often brought upon them various prejudice and sometimes well-meant intervention in agriculture, language, culture, social relations, and the like.

My recent work has focused on museum depictions of identity and difference in national settings, and also on matters of history, modernity, globalization and the question of how one can write ethnography when matters of identity and recognition are obviously very political. My work with Thailand's Mien people, on and off between 1990 and 2001 and ongoing, has focused on ritual, history, relations with state power, sports competitions, and political protest.

Along with writing articles and a book, I have done a video documentary on a festival of sports and culture that brought together representatives of Mien from all over Thailand. Other work has concerned images of ethnic difference in Vietnam, in museums and propaganda posters and the like, questions of ethnic labeling, health projects and the notion of health behavior in Cambodia, and trends in Thai-language depictions of ethnic minority highland peoples.

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Select Publications
Jonsson, Hjorleifur (2001, 2003)
"Mien Sports and Heritage, Thailand 2001." Documentary video (14 min, vhs/dvd, 2003), camera and editing by Karl Coogan. Distributed by the Program for Southeast Asian Studies, Arizona State University.

Jonsson, Hjorleifur (2005)
Mien Relations: Mountain People and State Control in Thailand, Cornell University Press, 240 pp. (2005).

Jonsson, Hjorleifur (2005)
"Museum Lessons: Situating Peoples and History in Thailand and Vietnam. In Interethnic Relations and Globalization in the Making of Mainland Southeast Asia and Southwest China, ed. by Hjorleifur Jonsson and Yukio Hayashi, Amarin Press, Bangkok.

Jonsson, Hjorleifur (2004)
"Mien Alter-Natives in Thai Modernity." Anthropological Quarterly 77, 3: 675-706 (2004). (Download pdf)

Jonsson, Hjorleifur (2003)
"Mien Through Sports and Culture: Mobilizing Minority Identity in Thailand." Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 68, 3: 317-40 (2003). (Download pdf)

Jonsson, Hjorleifur (2002)
"Other Attractions in Vietnam" (co-authored with Nora A. Taylor). Asian Ethnicity 3, 2: 233-48 (2002).

Jonsson, Hjorleifur (2001)
"Does the House Hold? History and the Shape of Mien (Yao) Society." Ethnohistory 48, 4: 613-54 (2001). "Serious Fun: Minority Cultural Dynamics and National Integration in Thailand." American Ethnologist 28, 1:151-78 (2001).

"French Natural in the Vietnamese Highlands: Nostalgia and Erasure in Montagnard Identity." Pp.52-65 in Of Vietnam: Identities in Dialogue, ed. by Jane Winston and Leakthina Ollier. New York: Palgrave (2001).

Jonsson, Hjorleifur (2000)
"Yao Minority Identity and the Location of Difference in the South China Borderlands." Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 65, 1: 56-82 (2000).

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Contact: Hjorleifur Jonsson