In the seminar I will present the findings from the fieldwork leading to my PhD, which I conducted in 1999-2000. In the fieldwork area, the Karen are attempting to remain subsistence oriented, growing rice for subsistence, raising cattle and collecting from the forest what they need to supplement their rice diet. On the other hand, the Hmong have enthusiastically made the transition to cash crop farming, almost completely abandoning the production of rice. I will argue that the different economic choices of the Karen and the Hmong are due to differences in the outlook, values, and intra-ethnic relationships that have evolved with their historical settlement pattern and economic activities in this region, rather than different opportunities in terms of access to credit, land, or market outlets.
*Claudio is a Visiting Project Researcher at CSEAS, and a JSPS post-doctoral fellow. He has conducted field research in Northern Thailand, comparing Hmong and Karen economic activities in the hills with which he wrote his Ph.D. dissertation in Geography at the National University of Singapore.
*Nathan (ASAFAS) is currently in the field, focusing on a watershed area inhabited by Hmong and Karen. He has also been working for ICRAF (International Center for Research in Agroforestry).