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The Mekong River: Space and Social Theory

Sachchidanand Sahai (Author)
Synopsis The Mekong-the 12th largest river in the world has been generally celebrated for its awe-inspiring rapids, its pristine beauty and unparalleled landscape. As the 7th longest river in Asia, it is perceived as endlessly meandering through exotic lands inhabited by colourful tribes, speaking mutually unintelligible tongues. Taking the reader beyond these stereotyped images, the present monography explores, for the first time, the Mekong in its dialectical relationship with the mainland South-East Asia, unfolding its dynamic role in the formation of great civilizations of the region. The author who has returned to the Mekong region several times since 1970 offers an intimate, dispassionate analysis of the overpowering influence the mighty river exercises over the lives of the millions of people who dwell in the fertile valley or on the slopes and peaks of mountains along its banks. Using the nuances of the spatial metephor, the nine successive sections of this study skillfully demonstrate how the Mekong encapsulates a much wider world than its “objective” physical space, where spatial practices of “the savage” and the civilized could be seen in proper perspective. The pre-colonial indigenous knowledge about the Mekong emerges from a meticulous study of the mythic cartography embedded in the local literature, both oral and written. Finally the Mekong at the center stage of colonial and post-colonial Asia, stimulates deeper concern for a world confronted with the dilemma of development. In brief, the Mekong River remains equally indispensable to the historians, anthropologists and geographers of world civilizations, and offers a rich harvest of rewarding insights to the policy-planners of Asia.
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About the author

Sachchidanand Sahai

Professor Sachchidanand Sahai (born 1941) served as Pro-Vice Chancellor, Magadh University, Bodh-Gaya in 2001. Currently he is Member, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi. Professor Sahai obtained his M.A. degree in Ancient Indian History, culture and Archaeology from Banaras Hindu University, with the award of A.S. Altekar Gold Medal in 1962. His researches on ancient Cambodia under the guidance of eminent French savant George Coedes in the University of Paris (Sorbonne) during 1965-69 lead to a doctoral degree and the publication of a pioneering work Les institutions politiques et I’ organization administrative du Cambodge ancien, EFEO, Paris, 1971. Professor Sahai was offered a Fulbright post-doctoral fellowship at Cornell Fellowships at Australian National University and Maison de Science de I’Homme, Paris. Under the auspices of Indian Council for Cultural Relations Professor Sahai worked as Visiting Professor of Asian Civilization at Sisavangvong University, Vientiane, Laos. He also worked as Research Professor at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi. Professor Sahai is the author of a number of books and research papers on the cultural history of South East Asia. He is the founder of the South East Asian Review and the International Conference on Thai Studies.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Mekong River: Space and Social Theory
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2005
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8176464740
length viii+200p., Maps; Bibliography; 23cm.