Lao Hill Tribes

A Race with Oblivion

Author: Stephen Mansfield


Unfavorable political circumstances combined with decades of war and Laos's changing status as a developing nation have exposed the vulnerability of the country's hill tribes. Government plans to integrate minorities into the national mainstream, while offering the prospect of economic and educational advancement, threaten to undermine already fragile lifestyles and microcultures. As minorities are increasingly exposed to the standards and demands of the marketplace the fear is that Lao hill tribes, in switching their allegiance from village, family, and clan to shared transnational values, will be obliged to trade in their cultural identities. In the process the social plurality that has long distinguished Laos may be replaced with a more monolithic grouping. While offering no solutions to the plight of Lao hill tribes, this article examines and attempts to make known the prevailing conditions in Laos and to outline the circumstances under which minorities currently live.
Countries: Laos

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