Position title: Charlotte W. Newcombe Dissertation Fellow (2013-2014)
From Blood to Fruit: Akha ancestral burdens and the pursuit of a modern authenticity in mainland Southeast Asia and Southwest China
Micah Morton’s dissertation highlights the efforts of certain members of the Akha transnational minority to promote a pan-Akha identity of a profoundly religious nature among 700,000 Akha in the mountainous borderlands of North Thailand, Northwest Laos, East Burma and Southwest China. This region is undergoing drastic geopolitical transformations. The elite behind the revivalist movement seek to perpetuate their tradition by ‘lightening’ and ‘modernizing’ the ancestral burden in order to prevent further conversions to the religions of ‘Others’ and encourage converts to return to the ‘Akha Religion’. Micah’s work offers a fine-grained analysis of Akha religious politics that highlights the dynamic and interrelated religious and secular aspects of social life.
Micah Morton is a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in the department of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on the anthropology of religion and transborder studies. He has received funding for various stages of his dissertation in the form of a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, and Fulbright IIE Fellowship. He received a B.S. in biology with a minor in cultural ecology from Juniata College and a M.A. in anthropology from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.