Local Knowledge, Dynamism and the Politics of Struggle: A Case Study of the Hmong in Northern Thailand
The Hmong are not passive actors who wait for help from development workers and other authorities. Instead, they actively engage themselves within a process of social negotiation between unequal socio-economic and political groups, a ‘dynamic knowledge system’. Three case studies from a Hmong Thantam community are used to better understand the process of social negotiation with multiple actors within complex power relations. More importantly, their dynamic local knowledge is used as a strategy to struggle against, and reconcile with, more powerful forces; the result of this process is the ‘complexity’ which happens as a response to power
It's possible to find knowledge from any place in the world when we humans learn from one another. Throughout the generations we Hmong have learned from many diverse sources. In order to fulfil our lives, we young Hmong still learn from the whole world. Laoyeng Saehang, A headman of Thantam village, Northern Thailand, 1998.(Published Online February 15 2006)
1 For this article, I am grateful to Nicholas Tapp and Andrew Walker of Australian National University. Their academic and personal advice has helped me through several tough times while I was in ANU. My warmest thanks also go to my friends Sunanta Yamthap and Thomas Jakubowski, who edited this paper.