Stretching from the Vietnamese highlands and Tibetan plateau to Afghanistan, Zomia is a geographical region with a population of 100 million people whose name was coined by Willem van Schendel of the University of Amsterdam in 2002.
Zomia is seen by some political scientists, such as Yale political scientist James Scott, as a rejection of the modern-day state and an example of an anarchist society in action.
In this region of the world, states such as China and Vietnam do not have control of these “out-of-reach” areas, and as a result, they are left to largely govern themselves.
These cultures tend to be fiercely nonhierarchical with rules such as the Wa’s that limit the amount of wealth and power one can display. Scott also argues that this anarchist society was formed as a result of people fleeing from more traditional nation-state structures to gain more freedom.
In one instance, he argues that the lack of written language within Zomia was a conscious choice by the natives because of the inherent bureaucracy that can arise from it.