ArticlePDF Available

The Demographics of a Village of Recently Settled Hunter- Gatherers in Thailand

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

The Mla Bri of northern Thailand are a small group of hunter-gatherers who settled into settlements in the late twentieth century. One of the four places they settled was Ban Bunyuen. In 2013, a demographic survey of the settlement was undertaken. This was combined with mortality data from the last 15 years to describe the changing demgraphics, and growth of this small population.
Content may be subject to copyright.
e Demographics of a Village of Recently Settled Hunter-
Gatherers in ailand
Eugene Long, Mary Long, and Tony Waters
Introduction
The Mla Bri are well-known in Thailand both for being the smallest of the northern
Thai hill tribes, and the “last” of the hunter-gatherers. The Mla Bri speak a language
which is of Mon-Khmer origin, and most similar to Tin (Rischel 1995, 2000, 2007).
Endogamy is strongly encouraged by the Mla Bri themselves in a context of their status
as a pariah group relative to neighboring groups of Hmong, northern Thai, and other
groups (see e.g. Jansen and Sorenson 2006, and Weber 2015/1921: 51-2).
Numbering about 400 people in 2013, the known Thai Mla Bri are found today in
three small settlements attached to villages of Hmong or northern Thai. A fourth group is
assisted by a project of HRH Princess Sirindhorn in Nan Province and is independent of
any village, although they maintain contact with the other three groups of Mla Bri. Until
the 1990s though, all Mla Bri lived primarily in forest areas where they were known
for their reclusiveness. Until that time, the Mla Bri moved frequently in order to hunt,
gather, and occasionally hire themselves out as laborers on remote farms of Hmong,
northern Thai, and others (see Siam Society 1963, Bernatzik 1938/1958). Since roughly
1993, and particularly since 2001 when the Mla Bri were provided formal recognition
and citizenship papers by the Thai government, the Mla Bri adapted their lifestyle and
became part of the broader world of Thailand. Mla Bri children began attending school,
a successful malaria eradication program was completed, medical services (especially
prenatal and infant care) were provided, roads and transportation services established,
the electrical grid extended to the new Mla Bri houses, and systematic access to markets
developed. Traditional hunting and gathering activities continue, but they are restricted
by access to forest areas which, besides being over-hunted, also came under the control
of the Thai central government (Nimonjiya 2013, and Long, Long, and Waters 2013).
The Mla Bri probably once existed over a much larger area and probably spoke
various dialects (Rischel, 2007), and three extant, closely related dialects of the Mla Bri
language have been identied. Styled as Mlabri “A,” “B,” and “C” (ischel, 2007), the
“A” variety is the most widespread, and is spoken at Ban Bunyuen and the other known
settlements in Thailand. In contrast, both the “B” and “C” dialects are now reportedly
represented by a small and diminishing number of speakers. For example, Mlabri B (also
referred to as Minor Mlabri, Beta Mlabri and b-Mlabri) was spoken by eleven people in
Santisuk District of Nan Province in 1995. The children of this group were not learning
Mlabri at that time, as Hmong was becoming the vernacular (Rischel, 1995). Mlabri
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 273 4/18/17 10:33 AM
274 L, L,  W
C was spoken by less than thirty people in ayaboury Province, Lao PD, as recently
as 2008. However, there is today no known contact between the Mlabri C speaking
population in Laos and the much larger Mla Bri population in Thailand.
What is signicant for this article is that Mlabri A is the rst language of all children
in Ban Bunyuen and is the primary means of communication used in the village. Inter-
generational transmission of the Mla Bri language still occurs in the home in both Phrae
and Nan provinces, and the overall demographic situation among this group, as will be
described below, is compatible with survival of the Mla Bri people and language into the
next generation and possibly beyond.
The Mla Bri of Ban Bunyuen, Thailand
Ban Bunyuen, the oldest of the three Mla Bri village settlements, is administratively
part of a larger Hmong village, Ban Huay Hom, in Phrae Province. The Mla Bri
population lives in a sub-village of Ban Huay Hom, Ban Bunyuen, in which all residents
assert a Mla Bri identity. The Mla Bri language is spoken by children and adults, and
continuing endogamous norms were still strong in 2016. Mla Bri is the rst language
(L1) for all Mla Bri residents of Ban Bunyuen.
Mla Bri still occasionally work in Hmong elds, though beginning about 2000,
some Mla Bri began cultivating their own rice and corn elds. By 2004, all family units
were planting highland rice. Although some family units still do not produce enough
rice for their own needs, current total rice production by the Mla Bri in Ban Bunyuen
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 274 4/18/17 10:33 AM
275T D      S H-
exceeds consumption, as evidenced by the fact that the Mla Bri sell surplus rice into
the marketplace. Ironically, in recent years, Prai laborers (a linguistic branch of the Tin
language, see Rischel 2007) from neighboring Nan Province began seeking seasonal
   ,          
   
            
Mla Bri.
             ,
and is a result of a demographic survey undertaken in June 2013. The data collected
included age, gender, household membership, school attendance, and address (See
       ,         ,
     ,            
 ,    1 Synthetic projections from the census
,       ,    ,  
          ,     
    
              
            
  ,        ,   , 
can be seen from the mortality data (Table 2), there have also been men over age sixty
in the past.
In 2013, the residents lived in thirty households at thirteen addresses. Thirty of the
        ,    , 
three secondary school grades.
Demographics
Settlement in Ban Bunyuen, 1990s–present
   ,           
         ,  
,              ,  
     ,      , 
          L, L 
W             
 , ,              
not engage in the cash economy.
 L            
         L, L  W ,  W
     ,          
1               
                
               ,  
           
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 275 4/18/17 10:32 AM
276 Long, Long, and Waters
a village in the general area where the Longs had recently moved. Population pressure
in their previous home in Khun Sathan2 in Nan Province had led the Hmong to settle
just north of the Thai village of Ban Huai Oi in the early 1980s. Competition for land
there resulted in their establishing swiddens approximately 5.5 kilometers southeast of
Ban Huai Oi. But, access to their new village north of Ban Huai Oi was dicult, and,
was a long distance from their swiddens. Hence, the establishment of the “new” Ban
Huai Hom in its current location, using the same village name that it had when located
further north. At the time the village moved to its current location, the Thai government
established a primary school, and a village dispensary. A rudimentary road was also
built in the early 1980s, and eventually paved by 2010. Electricity from the national
grid arrived in 2003, and has been connected to the individual dwellings of the Mla Bri
who use minimal amounts of electricity today, mainly to power lights and the occasional
television. The amount of electricity that each household uses is so small that the Mla
Bri are not charged by the electricity authority for what they use. Water is piped into the
village via a pipeline installed by the Longs in the 1980s.
The establishment of village life and permanent dwellings by the Hmong restricted
further the area over which the Mla Bri traditionally foraged. It was in this context that
family groups of Mla Bri began to locate more permanently near Ban Huay Hom, and
by the early 2000s were building permanent housing using money saved from weaving
hammocks for the export market to buy cement blocks, corrugated iron, and other
building materials. In 2001, the Mla Bri were also issued Thai national identication
cards, which gave them routine access to health and nutrition services at Thai government
dispensaries, provided a basis for political representation, and presented children with
the requirements for mandatory education under Thai law (Nimonjiya 2013, and Long,
Long, and Waters 2013).
The population of Ban Bunyuen reached a peak in 2009 of about 150, and then
dropped when about sixty people were resettled in a remote area of Nan as part of an
assistance project sponsored by HRH Princess Sirindhorn.
Switching from a nomadic to sedentary life: demographic consequences
Censuses and surveys typically assume that a population is attached to a particular
location. This was not the case until recent years for the Mla Bri, who were all highly
mobile. Not surprisingly, shifting from a nomadic to sedentary life has had many
cultural, social, economic, and demographic consequences. In terms of demographics,
it seems likely that there were potential changes in both fertility and mortality associated
with the shift. In terms of mortality, based on oral tradition, it is believed that rates of
accidental death, malaria, and infant mortality were very high, and associated with the
mobile lifestyle of the hunter-gatherer. For example, based on the frequent visits by
the Thai Malaria Service in the 1990s, it is known that malaria was endemic among
the Mla Bri prior to that time. After the arrival of the Thai malaria service, and in the
context of settlement by the Mla Bri, malaria was eventually eradicated from the Mla
2 Nimmenhaemin (1963) based his earlier writings on the Mla Bri he found near Khun Satan (see
also Siam Society 1963).
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 276 4/18/17 10:32 AM
277T D      S H-
             
   ,         
longer than do sedentary horticulturalists due to the nature of nomadism. Particularly
          , 
  ,          
          ,  
permanent housing can lead to both declining mortality and increased fertility. In the
    ,         
            
        ,  
 L             
          , 
          L  
             
  ,             , 
         L
Methodology
 , ,  L        
            
government. In conducting the survey, he checked the Thai National identity cards
        
listing each person. The data collected and reported are analyzed here. The government
        ,  
            , 
         L  
data about school attendance at that time.
          
            L  
       ,        
 ,     
              
     ,   , 
        ,   
Demographic survey 2013
    ,        
       , ,  , 
               
observed community composition in 2013. Synthetic community composition data
              ,
         L    
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 277 4/18/17 10:32 AM
278 Long, Long, and Waters
Age and gender demographics
The age pyramid for 2013 (see Figure 1) shows clearly a rapid growth of the
younger Mla Bri population born after 1988. The rst growth spurt occurred between
about 1988 and 1998, coinciding with the rst sustained contact between the Mla Bri
population and the institutions of the broader world, including the Thai military, the
public health service, and eventually the Thai school system. A second, larger “baby
boom” is apparent between 2003 and 2013, reecting an increasing number of women
surviving to child-bearing age, and beginning after 2004, decreasing infant mortality.3
Plausibly, it would reect a higher fertility rate, though as described below, this is not the
case. However, given the larger number of females entering the fertile years of fteen
to forty-four years after 2013, growth can be expected to continue into the future, if the
Mla Bri women continue to have children at the same rate, and all else is held constant
(see Table 1 and Table 2).
Fertility and mortality
Judging from the age pyramid, population growth among the Mla Bri has been
particularly steady since the 1990s, resulting presumably from increased survival among
infants and small children. Overall population growth from births may have dropped
beginning about 2008, as a result of a declining birth rate, though the data is still too
limited to reach a conclusion.
Fertility data is inferred from the age of the people living in Ban Bunyuen in 2013,
combined with mortality data for children. One thing that is signicant is that the Mla
Bri living at Ban Bunyuen do not seem to have increased the ratio of fertile women
to children since the 1980s, as might be expected for a population which is becoming
sedentary (see Table 3). Thus, in each of the ve-year cohorts, there is a ratio of 0.79-
1.11 children surviving per ve-year period. The average ratio of 0.965 children per
woman, is equivalent to a total fertility rate of 5.8 surviving children per woman which
is substantially higher than that of Thailand as a whole, where the total fertility rate
in 2012 was reported as 1.41 children per woman. There does not seem to be a stable
increase or decrease in this trend (see Table 2).
Residential patterns and family demographics
The 103 people in Ban Bunyuen lived at fourteen addresses, and in thirty-one
households. One man lived alone, and two married couples lived at their own address.
Twenty-eight people lived at a single address, which included two families. Notably,
they considered themselves separate households.
A total of eighty-one out of 103 people lived in what might be called a “nuclear
family” of a married mother and father, and children. Each family considered itself a
household, even while sharing an address with others (see Table 3).
3 The following denitions are used in this article: neonatal refers to a live birth up to one month
old; infant mortality refers to deaths from birth through one year old; child mortality refers to live births
up to ve years old; still births and medically non-viable pregnancies reect deaths before birth.
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 278 4/18/17 10:32 AM
279T D      S H-
School attendance
There were thirty children enrolled in school at the time of the survey in 2014,
and all were in the age-appropriate grade. The school in the village starts at age four,
and includes two years of preschool, six years of primary school, and three years of
secondary school.
Four children of school age did not attend school. All four were male; one was not
attending the sixth year of primary school, and the other three did not attend secondary
school. No males from the village attended secondary school, but four females did.
Truancy was an intractable problem in 2016. Children of all ages, both boys and
girls, were regularly absent from school, sometimes to help their parents with eld work,
sometimes to seek day wage employment with Thai or Hmong farmers, and often just to
hunt, gather, sh and otherwise amuse themselves in the jungle.
Neonatal deaths and child mortality
Death of neonatal infants was very high in 2002–2003, but such deaths declined
after that date, which is roughly coincident with the award of Thai citizenship, and
rights to access prenatal and neonatal care at the local health clinic (see Table 5). Ten
of sixteen deaths between 2002 and 2013 were children under ve years of age and, as
mentioned, ve of these were neonatal deaths, of which only one occurred since 2003.
Death from tuberculosis, a disease of crowding accounted for three adult deaths, and
there were two deaths from suicide. Tuberculosis rates before settlement are not known,
but as we discussed elsewhere (Long, Long and Waters 2013), suicide is associated with
settlement. Absent from the mortality statistics are the more common causes of death in
modernity, including cardio-vascular diseases, and cancers.
Settlement of the Mla Bri and demographic change
Previously, we wrote about the disconcerting nature of settlement among the Mla
Bri that resulted in suicide and suicide attempts among the recently settled adults in
Ban Bunyuen, and the other Mla Bri settlements (Long, Long and Waters 2013). The
current study of the demographics of just one Mla Bri village though, reveals another
demographic dimension of the Mla Bri’s “settling down process” which is a rapid growth
in the younger parts of the population as a result of declining infant and child mortality,
and a continued high rate of fertility. In 2002-2003 (the earliest date for which data can
be inferred), four out of fourteen births seem to have resulted in a neonatal death. With
settling down and the provision of health and nutrition services though, neonatal deaths
almost disappeared; until 2013 when there was one neonatal death. This resulted in a
rapid rise in the number of surviving small children in the population as children who
would have otherwise died, survived, and have gone on to attend the new village school.
One result of settling down is that more children are surviving in Ban Bunyuen,
as well as presumably the other Mla Bri villages. Notably, this increase is probably the
result of decreased mortality; the data also indicate that the ratio of fteen to forty-ve-
year-old women to children born is about the same in the 1980s and 2000s (See Table
2). This is surprising since it might be expected that fertility would rise in the context of
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 279 4/18/17 10:34 AM
280 L, L,  W
settlement, presumably reecting a weakening of the taboos inherited from the recent
hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Judging from the ratios of fertile women to children, this has
not yet been the case.
Mla Bri residential patterns are also notable. Hunter-gatherer groups, including
the Mla Bri are known for the uidity of their living arrangements, with frequent
ssion and fusion of small bands, a function of ecological conditions, social conict,
and kinship (see discussion in Long, Long,
and Waters 2013). The permanence of the
housing established since 2002 means that
grouping and re-grouping has slowed down.
How long this will last though, is not yet
knownmovement for unexpected reasons
is still possible, and perhaps even likely.
Indeed, in 2009, a substantial portion of the
village relocated to the project established
by HH Princess Sirindhorn in a remote are
of Nan province. Just because the Mla Bri
do not move every few weeks as they did as
hunter-gatherers, it does not mean they will
not move again.
But, assuming that another major
relocation does not happen, and the fertility
and mortality rates remain steady, the
population is expected to grow as the girls
born during the last twenty years continue
to enter the child-bearing years.
However, there is a broader question
about whether Mla Bri girls entering their child-bearing years will have the same
fertility rates as their mothers, and also, whether the Mla Bri will sustain the strong
norms guaranteeing endogamy. Mla Bri girls are attending primary school in the local
village and are beginning to attend secondary school. Secondary school attendance by
females is one of the best predictors of fertility decline. But it remains to be seen if this
will be the case with the Mla Bri. Anecdotal observations by the Longs as recently as
2016 indicate that Mla Bri girls continue to marry in their early teenage years, and begin
child-bearing shortly thereafter.
Overall the Mla Bri population is healthier, seemingly a result of a settled lifestyle.
Life expectancy is increasing, while infant and child mortality are rapidly declining.
Who knows, the ravages of civilization may soon present the Mla Bri with the “luxury”
of dying from “diseases of civilization” like cardio-vascular disease or cancer
At the same time, both Mla Bri males and females are less likely to acquire the
forest lore which sustained Mla Bri in the recent past, as they become dependent on
labor and market activity for sustenance, and schools and television become the day care
providers for children, just as it is in the nearby Hmong and Thai villages. Sustaining
endogamous traditions in such a context will be dicult.
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 280 4/18/17 10:34 AM
281T D      S H-
Conclusions
The story of the Mla Bri is highly unusual because it involves a rapid transition
from a largely hunter-gatherer lifestyle, to a settled one across a period of a few decades.
It is possible that the Mla Bri have begun the early stages of a demographic transition
as signaled by a decline in infant mortality and a rise in overall population growth. A
decline in fertility has yet to occur, though, with the result that there will likely be rapid
population growth in coming decades.
The Mla Bri in a period of twenty years have undergone a shift from hunter-
gatherers to confrontation with the modern, dierentiated world. People who in the
1980s lived in the forest in lean-tos, are now living in electried, cinder block houses,
send their children to modern Thai schools, and the population is growing at a robust
rate. This shift from hunter-gatherers to the modern Thai world is of course very unusual;
indeed it is unlikely to be replicated in many places, if ever again. Nevertheless what the
Mla Bri have experienced is instructive with respect to understanding both the resilience
and fragility of cultural traditions among hunter-gatherers.
Table 1: Population estimates, population of Ban Bunyuen.
Popu-
lation
Data and
Calculation
Min.
Age
Max.
Age
Mean
Age
Median
Age
Std.
Dev.
2003 82
etrospective
Synthetic based on
2013
0 65 20.04 15 15.74
2008 93
etrospective
Synthetic based on
2013
0 70 19.11 15 16.07
2013 103 Census 0 75 19.22 17 16.26
2018 120
Synthetic
Prediction Based
on 2013
NA NA NA NA NA
2023 144
Synthetic
Prediction Based
on 2013
NA NA NA NA NA
2028 175
Synthetic
Prediction Based
on 2013
NA NA NA NA NA
Note. The data for 2013 reect the census taken by Eugene Long in May 2013. Synthetic backwards projects to 2013 are
based on the census data and mortality data, and assume no immigration or emigration. Forward projects reect expected
births (see Table 3), and seven, ve, and ve deaths in the age cohorts ending in 2018, 2023, and 2028 respectively. These
forward projections are a synthetic number based on past fertility behavior, and past morality behavior in a population
which is getting larger and in which there is expected to be no more child mortality.
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 281 4/18/17 10:34 AM
282 L, L,  W
Figure 1. Age Pyramid of the Mla Bri
settlement, Ban Bunyuen, on 1 June
2013. The total population was 103
people.
Figure 2. etrospective age pyramid for
Mla Bri settlement at Ban Bunyuen for
2008. This is based on the age pyramid
data collected in 2013, and the death
register collected by Mary Long. Births
for 2009–2013 are subtracted, and
deaths during the period added back in.
The pyramid assumes no immigration
or emigration. The emigration of
approximately sixty people from Ban
Bunyuen to the Princess Sirindhorn
Project in Nan Province in 2009 is not
featured in this synthesis.
Figure 3. etrospective age pyramid
for Mla Bri settlement at Ban Bunyuen
for 2003. This is based on the age
pyramid data collected in 2013, and the
death register collected by Mary Long.
Births for 2004–2013 are subtracted,
and deaths during the period added
back in. The pyramid assumes no
immigration or emigration, meaning
the emigration of approximately sixty
people from Ban Bunyuen to the
Princess Sirindhorn Project in Nan
Province in 2009 is not featured in this
synthesis.
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 282 4/18/17 10:34 AM
283T D      S H-
Table 2: Mortality in Ban Bunyuen, 2002-2013.
Date Case Sex Age Location Notes
27 May 2002 1 M 0 BBY Deformed (?)
31 May 2002 2 M 2 BBY Drowning (about 2
years old)
23 October 2002 3 F 0 BBY
13 May 2003 4 F 0 BBY
July 2003 5 M 66 BBY Old age
October 2003 6 X 0 BBY Still born?
31 January 2004 7 M 63 BBY TB
22 October 2004 8 F 3 mo. BBY cleft palate
1 March 2005 9 M 7 mo. BBY Birth Defects
17 October 2006 10 F 32 BBY Suicide
19 October 2006 11 M 24 BBY Suicide
April 2008 12 F 58 BBY TB
21 April 2009 13 M 64 BBY Old age
25 October 2011 14 F 56 BBY Pancytopenia
24 July 2012 15 F 0 BBY Lived only a few
hours
November 2013 16 M 43 BBY TB (after 2013
census—not included)
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 283 4/18/17 10:35 AM
284 L, L,  W
Table 3. Cohort analysis of fertile aged females, and births in the population of Ban
Bunyuen.
Cohort
(June 1 date)
Females 15-45
(2013)
Surviving
Births
Ratio, females to
surviving births
1984-1988 7 6 1.16
1989-1993 8 10 0.80
1994-1998 11 13 0.84
1999-2003 12 11 1.09
2004-2008 15 19 0.79
2009-2013 20 18 1.11
2014-2018
(projection) 25 (24.125) (0.965)
2019-2023
(projection) 30 (28.95) (0.965)
2024-2028
(projection) 37 (35.705) (0.965)
Note: Calculations were undertaken by evaluating the age pyramid (Figure 1). Note, past and future
calculations are a synthetic statistic which assumes no migration. The average ratio of fertile
females to birth is 0.965.
Table 4: Household Units in Ban Bunyuen on 1 June 2013.
Household Unit Number of units Number of people
Single 2 2
Single mother with children 1 3
Couple without children 5 9*
Couples with children gone 3 6
Couples with children 15 81
Missing Data 2
Total 31 103
* one person missing data
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 284 4/18/17 10:35 AM
285T D      S H-
Table 5: Births and Neonatal / Infant Deaths
Year Male
Births
Female
Births
Total
Births
Infant
Deaths
2013 (6 months) 0 1 1 0
2012 3251
2011 1450
2010 0330
2009 2020
2008 1230
2007 2262
2006 0110
2005 4371
2004 5161
2003 1672
2002 2572
Note: “Infant deaths” include neonates, infants, children to ve years old, still born and medically
terminated non-viable pregnancies. See n. 3.
References
Bernatzik, Hugo. 1938/1958. Spirits of the Yellow Leaves. London: Robert Hale.
Jansen, J. B. and S. B. Sorenson. 2006. “The Importance of Being Mlabri.” DVD (61 minutes).
Final Cut Productions: Copenhagen.
Long, Mary, Eugene Long, and Tony Waters. 2013. Suicide Among the Mla Bri of Northern
Thailand. Journal of the Siam Society 101:155-76.
Nimmanhaeminda, Kraisri. 1963. “The Mrabri Language.” Journal of the Siam Society 51.2:
179-84
Nimonjiya, Shu. 2013. From Ghosts to Hill Tribe to Thai Citizens: Towards a History of the
Mlabri of Northern Thailand. Aseanie 32: 155-76.
Rischel, Jurgen. 1995. Minor Mlabri: A Hunter-Gatherer Language of northern Indo-China.
Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.
Rischel, Jurgen. 2000. “The Enigmatic Ethnolects of the Mlabri (Yellow-Leaf) Tribe.” at sealang.
net/sala/archives/pdf8/rischel2000enigmatic.pdf
Rischel, Jurgen. 2007. Mlabri and Mon-Khmer: Tracing the History of a Hunter-gatherer
Language. Copenhagen: The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters
Siam Society. 1963. “The Mlabri.” Special Issue of The Journal of the Siam Society.
Waters, Tony. 2015. “Ethnography as a Contact Sport: The Mla Bri and the Long Family of Phrae
Thailand. Ethnography.com Online: http: //www.ethnography.com/2015/08/ethnography-
as-a-contact-sport-the-mla-bri-and-the-long-family-of-phrae-thailand/
Weber, M ax . 1 92 1/ 20 15 . “C la ss es , Stände, P ar ti es ” in We be r ’s R at io na li sm a nd M o de rn S oc ie ty ,
Edited and Translated by Tony Waters and Dagmar Waters. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 105, 2017
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 285 4/18/17 10:35 AM
60-04-027_273-286 new18-04 siam p_coated.indd 286 4/18/17 10:35 AM
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
The Mla Bri are a small group of nomadic hunter-gatherers (about 400) living in northern Thailand who since the 1990s have begun to settle in semi-permanent villages. Eugene and Mary Long are missionaries who have lived near the Mla Bri since 1982. Between 2005 and 2008, there were ve fatal suicides in this group, including four males and one female. This is apparently a new phenomenon; suicide was virtually unknown among the Mla Bri before more permanent settlements were established. Suicides and suicide attempts were usually—though not exclusively— by drink ing poison, and involved married males. Explanations given by the Mla Bri for the suicides, and suicide attempts, emphasize the role of " paluh " which functions as a form of censure. The incidents of paluh leading to suicides were often in the context of sexual jealousy, and triggered by extramarital affairs and alcohol abuse. This article discusses the " epidemic " of suicide in the context of life among the Mla Bri during the last thirty years as they were confronted with the world of modern Thailand. From a broader context, the article concludes that the 2005-2008 suicides are associated with the rapid social change the group has experienced during the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherers to semi-settled status.
Spirits of the Yellow Leaves
  • Hugo Bernatzik
Bernatzik, Hugo. 1938/1958. Spirits of the Yellow Leaves. London: Robert Hale.
The Importance of Being Mlabri DVD (61 minutes). Final Cut Productions
  • J B Jansen
  • S B Sorenson
Jansen, J. B. and S. B. Sorenson. 2006. " The Importance of Being Mlabri. " DVD (61 minutes). Final Cut Productions: Copenhagen.
The Enigmatic Ethnolects of the Mlabri (Yellow-Leaf) Tribe. " at sealang. net/sala/archives/pdf8/rischel2000enigmatic.pdf Rischel, Jurgen Mlabri and Mon-Khmer: Tracing the History of a Hunter-gatherer Language. Copenhagen: The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters Siam Society The Mlabri
  • Jurgen Rischel
Rischel, Jurgen. 2000. " The Enigmatic Ethnolects of the Mlabri (Yellow-Leaf) Tribe. " at sealang. net/sala/archives/pdf8/rischel2000enigmatic.pdf Rischel, Jurgen. 2007. Mlabri and Mon-Khmer: Tracing the History of a Hunter-gatherer Language. Copenhagen: The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters Siam Society. 1963. " The Mlabri. " Special Issue of The Journal of the Siam Society.
Ethnography as a Contact Sport: The Mla Bri and the Long Family of Phrae Thailand
  • Tony Waters
Waters, Tony. 2015. "Ethnography as a Contact Sport: The Mla Bri and the Long Family of Phrae Thailand. Ethnography.com Online: http: //www.ethnography.com/2015/08/ethnographyas-a-contact-sport-the-mla-bri-and-the-long-family-of-phrae-thailand/
Classes, Stände, Parties" in Weber's Rationalism and Modern Society, Edited and Translated by Tony Waters and Dagmar Waters
  • Max Weber
Weber, Max. 1921/2015. "Classes, Stände, Parties" in Weber's Rationalism and Modern Society, Edited and Translated by Tony Waters and Dagmar Waters. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
DVD (61 minutes). Final Cut Productions
  • J B Jansen
  • S B Sorenson
Jansen, J. B. and S. B. Sorenson. 2006. "The Importance of Being Mlabri." DVD (61 minutes). Final Cut Productions: Copenhagen.
The Enigmatic Ethnolects of the Mlabri (Yellow-Leaf) Tribe
  • Jurgen Rischel
Rischel, Jurgen. 2000. "The Enigmatic Ethnolects of the Mlabri (Yellow-Leaf) Tribe." at sealang. net/sala/archives/pdf8/rischel2000enigmatic.pdf