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This is a book about social differentiation and distinction in one of the ethnically and politically most complex regions of the world, dealing with crucial issues in currently renewed debates on cultural pluralism, nationalism, irredentism and ethnic dispersal. The themes are given a regional and historical focus by treating peoples within the Tai-speaking regions of mainland South East Asia, namely the two basically Tai states, Thailand and Laos, and Tai areas in Burma, China, Vietnam and Malaysia. The book examines representations of non-Tai peoples by various Tai, and representations of Tai by others, and the related experiences of each as they have interacted with different Tai political spaces. The historical scope includes contemporary policy debates on 'nationalities; of 'minorities; policy in the light of earlier colonial and pre-colonial situations.