Fieldwork in Southeast Asia

In order to capture the dynamics of Internet development in Southeast Asia, I carried out my fieldwork in two stages, in late 1998 and in early 2000. I spent most of the time in Malaysia and Laos, complemented with shorter visits to neighboring Thailand, Singapore and Bali. In the past I've also carried out research in Cambodia and Singapore. Add to this several years of backpacking in the region, starting back in 1983, and you will understand my long-standing fascination with Southeast Asia.

The photograhs are all from my second round of fieldwork, a period during which I was fortunate enough to have acess to a digital camera (thanks to William Vought). The ability to capture events and images in digital format proved invaluable and these days I have a digital camera of my own. The textual description of the images is a revised version of the fieldnotes I posted on this site, while undertaking fieldwork. Aimed at contextualizing Internet development in contemporary Southeast Asia, the images will hopefully give you a better idea of some of the main characteristics of the region.

Below you will find some background information on Malaysia and Laos, based on a reliable source of intelligence.

To view the annotated pictures from my fieldwork, see the introductory pages for Malaysia and Laos respectively.

Southeast Asia

Source: CIA map of Southeast Asia


Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Government type: constitutional monarchy
Currency: ringgit
Population: 22,229,040 (July 2001 est.)
Ethnic groups: Malay and other indigenous 58%, Chinese 27%, Indian 8%, others 7% (2000)
Religions: Islam, Buddhism, Daoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism; note - in addition, Shamanism is practiced in East Malaysia
Languages: Bahasa Melayu (official), English, Chinese dialects (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai; note - in addition, in East Malaysia several indigenous languages are spoken, the largest of which are Iban and Kadazan
Literacy: definition:  age 15 and over can read and write
total population:  83.5%
male:  89.1%
female:  78.1% (1995 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $10,300 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture:  14%
industry:  44%
services:  42% (2000)
Population below poverty line: 6.8% (1997 est.)
Climate: tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons
Terrain: coastal plains rising to hills and mountains
Telephones - main lines in use: 4.5 million (1999)
Televisions: 10.8 million (1999)
Internet users: 1.5 million (2000)

Laos-Lao People's Democratic Republic

Capital: Vientiane
Government type: Communist state
Currency: kip
Population: 5,635,967 (July 2001 est.)
Ethnic groups: Lao Loum (lowland) 68%, Lao Theung (upland) 22%, Lao Soung (highland) including the Hmong ("Meo") and the Yao (Mien) 9%, ethnic Vietnamese/Chinese 1%
Religions: Buddhist 60%, animist and other 40%
Languages: Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages
Literacy: definition:  age 15 and over can read and write
total population:  57%
male:  70%
female:  44% (1999 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,700 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture:  51%
industry:  22%
services:  27% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line: 46.1% (1993 est.)
Climate: tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)
Terrain: mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus
Telephones - main lines in use: 25,000 (1997)
Televisions: 52,000 (1997)
Internet users: 2,000 (2000)

Source: CIA: The World Factbook 2001