Year published :November 2017

Pages :290 pp., paperback

Size :15 x 21 cm.

Rights :World except France

ISBN: 9786162151415

Dreams of Prosperity: Inequality and Integration in Southeast Asia

by SEATIDE-Silkworm Books Series

Edited by Silvia Vignato 

Dreams of Prosperity offers a critical composite reflection on Southeast Asia as a progressively integrated and globalized space of production, exchange, and circulation within and beyond national boundaries. Through a broad array of contexts united by the theme of integration, the essays describe the successful or unsuccessful entry of specific individuals or groups into wider markets and networks in their quest for prosperity—in Thailand, by Lua peasant farmers, slum families, the last century’s teak laborers, and ethnic tour hosts; in Indonesia, by the urban poor and communities resisting environmental destruction; and in Vietnam, by human trafficking returnees. The authors examine how these groups are socially and symbolically defined and redefined in the process of integration, and consider the imaginaries of future that enable both active participation and unmitigated manipulation. Two key topics are the cognitive struggle that peasants and laborers face with their material environment and the process of sense-making that characterizes many destitute people in urban contexts. 

This fresh and unusual collection lays the ground for a comparative grassroots approach to inequality and integration in Southeast Asia. It is a uniquely useful resource for area studies and social science students, and also provides insight for those engaged in humanitarian and political action. 

Contributors are Matteo Carlo Alcano, Amnuayvit Thitibordin, Monika Arnez, Giuseppe Bolotta, Olivier Evrard, Karnrawee Sratongno, Runa Lazzarino, Manoj Potapohn, Amalia Rossi, Sakkarin Na Nan, and Silvia Vignato. 


  • A grassroots perspective on economic and social integration in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam
  • Explores the process of sense-making in the experience of inequality
  • Considers the impact of environment in the transformation of thought and the manipulation of desire
  • Describes subjective reactions to integration, from resistance to acceptance 


  1. Green Aspirations and the Dynamics of Integration in Two East Kalimantan Cities— Monika Arnez 
  2. Neoliberalism and the Integration of Labor and Natural Resources: Contract Farming and Biodiversity Conservation in Northern Thailand—Amalia Rossi and Sakkarin Na Nan 
  3. Integration and Marginality in the Tourist Economy: The Geopolitics of Trekking in Chiang Mai Province—Olivier Evrard, Manoj Potapohn, and Karnrawee Sratongno 
  4. Migration and the Ethnic Division of Labor in Siam’s Teak Business, 1880s–1910s— Amnuayvit Thitibordin 
  5. After the Shelter: The Nuances of Reintegrating Human Trafficking Returnees in Northern Vietnam—Runa Lazzarino 
  6. Playing the NGO System: How Mothers and Children Design Political Change in the Slums of Bangkok—Giuseppe Bolotta 
  7. Making Sense of Poverty in Aceh and Surabaya—Silvia Vignato and Matteo Carlo Alcano 

About the Editor 

Silvia Vignato is associate professor in anthropology at Università di Milano-Bicocca. Her research interests are work and marginal environments in Indonesia (Aceh) and Malaysia. She is actively involved in EuroSEAS and is chief editor of Antropologia.

About the SEATIDE Project

This study was written for the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), in the framework of the project “Integration in Southeast Asia: Trajectories of Inclusion, Dynamics of Exclusion” (SEATIDE) funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (FP7). The research leading to these results as well as their publication have received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme [FP7/2007–2013] under Grant Agreement n°320221. 


Southeast Asia anthropology integration inequality environment poverty employment

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