Malaysian Indigenous Youth in the City
This collection of photos is part of a project that aims at raising awareness about and creating understanding for the situation of indigenous youth living in cities by offering young indigenous city dwellers a virtual and visual forum for intercontinental and intergenerational exchange. The participants of the project received training in digital photography. The idea was to give them a tool to document their lives and express their views, fears, joys and hopes through a visual media that could be shared across borders and generations. The project was initiated with a series of workshops with urban indigenous youth in Malaysia, India, Thailand, Bolivia and Brazil throughout 2008 and 2009. During the workshops indigenous youth was invited to discuss their situation and perspectives as young indigenous people living in cities. With the photos, indigenous youth in Malaysia tell powerful stories of life in rapid transition and of how identities are being shaped and re-shaped. We hope you will enjoy the photo collection and that the photos contribute to generating discussions among urban indigenous youth on their own situation and future. The number of indigenous peoples living in urban areas is increasing, and in some countries like Canada and Chile, more than half the indigenous population now lives in cities. Poverty and marginalization, poor housing and labour conditions characterize the lives of many indigenous peoples living in cities throughout the world. On the other hand, cities also offer new opportunities and urban life can boost creativity and entrepreneurship. Indigenous youth is particularly impacted by inadequate education systems, high unemployment and social problems in their home communities, and are frequently forced to move to the cities if they are to benefit from employment and education opportunities. In the city they may feel a split between the world of their indigenous families and communities, and that represented by the urban environment. They may however also find new ways of expressing and recreating their indigenous identity, thereby widening the concept. In many countries, indigenous youth are engaging in the renewing of the indigenous movement, sometimes in manners and with visions that are not always shared and encompassed by the traditional indigenous organisations. The Malaysian component of this photography project for indigenous youth living in the city was entrusted to the Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) in late 2008.