Thidar Htwe Win
Thidar Htwe Win (right) talking to local community members outside Yadanabon university,  27th July 2017.

I was a first year anthropology student in Yangon University, Myanmar in 1995 but I really did not understand anthropology before I studied it. Because I got the chance to study anthropology without any prior knowledge of the subject,  I initially understood it as a subject to study our national groups. Then I realized that anthropology can help people understand the nuances of every culture. In 1995, I did my research on Social Organization of Lhao Vo Nationals, one of the Myanmar Nationals for my MA degree. At that time I was not very used to doing field work. Then I won a scholarship sponsored by the Japanese Foundation called the Asian Youth Fellowship program which let me study the Japanese Language in Malaysia in 2001. It was my first encounter with a foreign culture.  I also observed the ceremonies at the Batu Cave which was a wonderful experience of Hindu culture. After that I had the chance to study in a Japanese University in 2002. I did my research on the “Objectification of Tradition in Japanese Society”.

While I was doing my field work, I helped the Japanese people by weeding, cleaning their houses, teaching English the children, visiting the elderly and so on. I also realized that the Japanese had some social and cultural problems to maintain their intangible cultural heritage of the researched community because of depopulation.  After my study in Japan, I came back to my country in 2006. I conducted research on community development and local knowledge but I couldn’t apply my anthropological knowledge to solve the real local problems that I found in my research areas.

Now, I have the chance to participate in the Southeast Asia Platform of Humanities Across Borders with the collaboration of IIAS. Through this project I can learn much from other scholars. Then I can also utilize those experiences in my teaching. Furthermore, I and community members will together find out ways to help solve their real problems.

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