Accepted paper:

Plurality of museums, unity of the culture: the case of the Moken in the Mergui Archipelago


Jacques Ivanoff (Musée de l'Homme)
Fabienne Galangau Quérat (Muséum national d'Histoire Naturelle - Paris)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to present an inter-communitarian heritage project which purposes is to translate knowledge of the Moken's nomadic culture and their long term interactions with their milieu, in between forests, coasts and seas.

Paper long abstract:

Established in the Mergui Archipelago, the Moken live a nomadic, sea-based life. At the margins of the States and isolated during a long period of time, they are experiencing a regional economic integration. On the Myanmar's side, due to industrial fishing and tourism, Moken face major reorganisations. Over the past years, hundred of thousands of Central Burmese settled in the Archipelago and benefit from the Moken's knowledge of the sea to develop flourishing fishing activities. The tragic numerous death of the Moken men in the diving industry, let some of these new comers to intermarry with Moken women. By fear that their children, recognized by the State as Burmese, may not be integrated into the Nation as "real" Burmese, mix-couples advocate for the preservation of Moken's knowledge. As opposed to "cultural zoos" where they are maintained in Thailand, Moken claim for a local museum that enables them to rediscover their past and the voices of their ancestors. How to develop an interactive museum that may gather together various communities? The museum and an itinerant exhibition made of ancient artefacts and audio-video records may allow locals and visitors to discover an archipelago through an inter-communitarian project based upon the deep knowledge of their ancient inhabitants. The difficulties may be to find an agreement between these communities to nurture and maintain this place of preservation and exchange and to map through the Archipelago the vivid Moken's knowledge of their territory and their intimacy with their environment.

panel P05
Local/global histories: the challenge of local museums