Heritage and the Politics of Culture
A multidisciplinary team presents the development of a concept and method: a cartography of the social space (CartES) of the Moken, marine nomads of the Mergui Archipelago (Thailand, Myanmar). The CartES project aims to offer a "vision" of the Moken environment by the Moken themselves. It is a "medium" that makes it possible to transcribe Moken culture as a dynamic social system by identifying "significant minimum social units" that should be considered in the development of the archipelago. What place for the Moken in this development? Is it possible for them to be involved? Do they want it?
To the extent that the demand for integration comes from the outside (Government notably), the Moken respond because their society operates "in reaction to" and we have been solicited by the Moken themselves to act as intermediaries. But why a medium for communication with the Moken "world"? Moken society is characterized by socio-cultural traits such as avoidance, egalitarianism and non-accumulation. These traits make the Moken sea nomads who traditionally live on their home boat, the kabang. Strategy of avoidance dictates that of dissimilation: each individual and place bears several names among which the signifier is most often concealed. However, Moken oral history could become the first step towards the constitution of the region's annals based on their hundreds of hours of stories.
All these considerations explain the need for a tool, CartES, that makes it possible to communicate with the Moken, to make their vision of the world in motion understandable and to imagine with them a certain number of possible ways to prevent a dislocation of society.
By combining several disciplines and methods, history, geography, anthropology, museology and virtualization, the computerized corpus linked to cartography makes it possible to give a link with this active but concealed ethnicity that ultimately dictate Moken behavior. This cartography is social as it builds the nomadic archipelago and does not simply explain the space "lived" individually. It makes possible the highlighting of contiguities ("conceptual ecotones") between different systems: e.g. transition from oral to written, written to model, model to exhibition, exhibition to museum and finally to digitalization, allowing the creation of an interactive mapping that offers a global perspective of the whole archipelago. We have structured an endogenous vision of environment to offer a Moken "vision" of the social, historical and natural environment to museology, ultimate expression of what Moken society will show and promote.