Social Documentary Photographer Sascha Richter is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.  From his project ‘Mountainland‘.  To see Sascha’s projects click on any image.


Portrait of a Dao woman
Portrait of a woman in her traditional clothes, worn by Dao people.


Threshing Rice
A family is threshing rice crop on their field.


The Southeast Asian Massif is a region that sprawls across Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, China, India and Bangladesh, roughly 2,5 million square kilometers. Most of the people dwelling there are fragmented into hundreds of ethnic identities, linguistically and culturally distinct from the populations that dominate the state cores in the valleys.

Estimations put the ethnic minority populations at around eighty million to one hundred million people.

The population of the hills is far more dispersed and culturally diverse than that of the valleys and their history is best understood as a history of runaways from nation building processes in the lowlands.


Children are performing to a Communist Party of Vietnam’s song that is played every day at school. Most of the children do not understand the meaning as their mother tongue is not Vietnamese.


Market Scene
In the mountainous areas of northern Vietnam markets are held every Sunday. They are important for selling and buying local agricultural products, household utensils, medicine and the occasion for social and cultural exchanges, also among people of different ethnic groups.


Portrait of a Hmong woman


Historically all states, classical, colonial and independent nation-states, in the region have tried to bring such people under their administration and encouraged politics of economic, administrative, and cultural absorption into the majority population at the state core. Thereby making the upland both, a space of political resistance and a zone of cultural refuge.

The region is knitted together not by political unity, but by comparable patterns of hill agriculture, dispersal, mobility, and rough egalitarianism. Rugged mountains and beautiful, but harsh landscapes are shaping the environment for the people balancing between traditional livelihood and modern structures and providing a
homeland for these groups, dwelling here since centuries.

Naturally, today, in our fast growing, globalized world, the option of avoiding the state is one that is fast vanishing.

Nevertheless, ‘Mountainland’ tries to challenge the widespread perception and common narrative of the cultural unity of the Southeast Asian states and highlights the classical lifestyle of the mountain dwellers vis-à-vis the respective lowland societies.


Boy and Cane
A boy is carrying home his crop, that will serve as food for the family’s animals. Cane is one of the most common agricultural products in Ha Giang province. Because of its karst topography in certain areas it is very difficult to cultivate rice or grow vegetables.


Women and Baskets
Women are using baskets to separate rice grain and straw as part of their harvest work.


Playing with Stones
Girls are playing with stones on a self-made board.


Harvesting Rice
Three generations are harvesting the family’s rice, that will serve them as food for the coming year. Children are an important work force for poor families, who help earning the income.


Men on a Field
Two men are peeling garlic to plant the seed as next year’s crop.


See also:

Mothers – Widows of Vrindavan

By Sascha Richter