Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies

Thailand@HU Lecture Series: "Mobility and Identities among the Tai Dam from Houaphan"

  • When May 15, 2013 from 06:00 to 08:00
  • Where IAAW, Invalidenstr. 118, 10115 Berlin, Room 117 (1st floor)
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Prof. Pierre Petit from the Université Libre de Bruxelles: "Mobility and Identities among the Tai Dam from Houaphan"

Wednesday, 15. May 2013, 18.00-20.00 pm, room 117

Internal migrations have affected most highland populations of Laos since the 1990s, when slash-and-burn agriculture was progressively prohibited. This has been tackled usually through the lens of economy and politics. I would like here to highlight the way biographies and visual anthropology unveil the way people conceive of, and experiment with, their migration. The tone of the life-stories I collected is not that of an economic computation, but is, rather, that of a family quest, the search for a better life, in a complex social context—even though, in many cases, real success has as yet proved elusive. The stories display a ‘moral economy’ where physical mobility, kinship, socio-economic development, expectations of modernity and personal identity are intertwined by the teller. The presentation will be based on a multi-sited ethnography carried out in Houay Yong, a village in the mountainous province of Houaphan, as well as in two other places where people originating from this village are now living: Thongnamy (prov. of Bolikhamxay) and Vientiane capital city. My aim is to understand better the way Tai Dam identities are recomposed in these contexts, for the adults, the youth and the elders; and for the migrants as well as for those who stay in the home village.