Loss of Lisu culture confonted at Chiang Mai conference

Loss of Lisu culture confonted at Chiang Mai conference

Lisu from all over Southeast Asia attended an international conference stressing cultural preservation and sustainable development in Mae Taeng district of Chiang Mai. (Photos by Mark Goldschmidt)
Lisu from all over Southeast Asia attended an international conference stressing cultural preservation and sustainable development in Mae Taeng district of Chiang Mai. (Photos by Mark Goldschmidt)

In an age of globalisation – and homogenisation – how can an indigenous culture like that of the ethnic Lisu survive and thrive?

Chinese Lisu singers entertained at a festival accompanying the conference.

That was one of the questionsaddressed by a three-day conference in Chiang Mai’s Mae Taeng district that wrapped on Sunday.

Conference-goers said a key challenge was maintaining interest amongst young people in traditional Lisu culture. 

Language loss - particularly the lack of Lisu literacy in their own writing system - are particular problems, said Michele Zack, author of the new book The Lisu: Far from the Ruler.  “But the strength of the will to cultural survival among Lisu is just so passionate -- it is very moving to witness”.

There are more than a million ethnic Lisu in SouthEast Asia, China and India, with approximately 50,000 living in 150 villages in northern Thailand.

(Video YouTube/Lisu Thailand)

(Video YouTube/You Watch)


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