The preliminary plan is to backpack across the Southeast Asian region, crossing several borders, namely Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam. The goal is to document the life of the ethnic minority tribes there - their cultures, way of life, and traditions. This would also involve ethnographic experience where my team will stay in the villages / homes of these tribes to fully immerse in the experience. My primary findings will be in the medium of photographs, but also include oral transcripts when conversing with these individuals, written accounts etc. Like my past work (see www.maptia.com/nathanielsoon), I will arrange the collected images post-trip into a story-format to convey my thoughts and experiences of these communities before presenting it in full - the story will largely be centred around the images with captions going alongside to provide some explanations. This idea was derived from my love for cultures and travel - I was first exposed to rural village life in 2011 when I visited Chiangrai, Thailand & lived amongst the tribes, witnessing the spirit of community but also the dangers their cultures face. I took away way more than I gave, for sure. & in a twist, I went back again the next year, and the next and to date, I’ve been on five consecutive trips. This interest in human culture simply grew exponentially. I started reading, writing & studying – I remember writing a school paper based solely on ethnographic observation on my third trip there and this interest has also led me to pick anthropology as a course option for college. This interest has also grown over the years to something more – I’ve grown to feel a sense of concern for the issue of cultural erosion within tribal communities not just in Asia but around the world. With increasing modernisation, many youths are starting to abandon their traditions for ‘city life’. & I say this because I’ve witnessed it first hand. Cultural abandonment couldn't be more clear.
Funded by Singapore (October 2016)