Thursday, 13 May 2010

Through Hmong Eyes

On a recent trip to Vietnam I came across the book Through H'Mong Eyes, published by the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi. The book is the outcome of a participatory photography project funded with a grant from the Toyota Foundation. Hmong girls from SaPa in Northern Vietnam were given cameras to documented their lives in words and photos for the book. The book I believe dates from 2003.

By mixing images with written stories the book provided an opportunity for the girls voices to be heard by audiences at local, national and global levels. It also created an awareness of the Hmong not as objects of study – as they have so often been treated in the past – but as active agents and subjects, the shapers of their own identity.”

The book also shows the dilema that so many young people face living in popular tourist destinations like SaPa that were until relatively recently fairly remote. The young people still wish to retain many of their traditional customs as well as embrace so called modern customs.

The book was also used as source material for a feminist essay on Contemporary Women's Roles in Vietnam:

To get a copy of the book I'm afraid you are going to have to visit the Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi or scour the many second hand book shops in Hanoi. Good luck.

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