There is much in The Art of Not Being Governed that is worth sharing and discussing, but for now I want to leave you with this passage from the fascinating section on "ethnogenesis":
Once launched, the "tribe" as a politicized entity can set in motion social processes that reproduce and intensify cultural difference. They can, as it were, create the rationale for their own existence. Political institutionalization of identities, if successful, produces this effect by reworking the pattern of social life. The concept of "traffic patterns" used by Benedict Anderson to describe the creation by the Dutch colonial regime in Indonesia, virtually from thin air, of a "Chinese" ethnic group, best captures this process. In Batavia, the Dutch discerned, according to their preconceptions, a Chinese minority. This mixed group did not consider itself Chinese; its boundaries merged seamlessly with those of other Batavians, with whom they freely intermarried. Once the Dutch discerned this ethnicity, however, they institutionalized their administrative fiction. They set about territorializing the "Chinese" quarter, select "Chinese" officials, set up local courts for customary Chinese law as they saw it, instituted Chinese schools, and in general made sure that all those falling within this classification approached the colonial regime as Batavian "Chinese." What began as something of the Dutch imperial imagination took on real sociological substance through the traffic patterns of institutions. And voilà!—after sixty years or so there was indeed a self-conscious Chinese community. The Dutch had, to paraphrase Wilmsen, through an administrative order, manufactured what they could not discover.This seems to me to have all kinds of relevance beyond the specific sorts of examples Scott gives. That is, not only did the Dutch "manufacture what they could not discover" in creating a "Chinese minority" in Batavia, but consider how the "Dutch" (i.e., a ruling stratum identified as "Dutch") themselves manufactured the Dutch! The same is true everywhere: ordinary people become subsumed within states and statelets, becoming, over time, "French" or "English" or whatever.
Once a "tribe" is institutionalized as a political entity—as a unit of representation with, say, rights, land, and local leaders—the maintenance and reinforcement of that identity becomes important to many of its members. [...] The more successful the identity is in winning resources and prestige, the more its members will have an interest in patrolling its borders and the sharper those borders are likely to become. The point is that once created, an institutional identity acquires its own history. The longer and deeper this history is, the more it will resemble the mythmaking and forgetting of nationalism. Over time such an identity, however fabricated its origin, will take on essentialist features and may well inspire passionate loyalty. (pp. 264-5)