My name is Stan BH Tan-Tangbau. A little explanation here on my family-clan name ‘Tan-Tangbau’. Tan, or 陳, is my family name. Tangbau is my adopted Kachin clan name. I am not from a Kachin background, and neither is my wife, Cecilia SY Koh-Tangbau. Back in early 2010, Mr Masao Imamura and Dr Marip Kum Ja introduced us to the overseas Kachin community in Singapore. We began to work closely with the Kachin community there through the Singapore Kachin Baptist Church (which was then known as the Singapore Kachin Christian Fellowship). That was when we started the early phases of the Kachin Life Stories Project, which have since become a major occupation of our research efforts. Our close relationship with the Kachin community in Singapore led to our daughter, born on 13 January 2011, being anointed with a full Kachin name, Tangbau Seng Ing. In order for our daughter to be anointed her full Kachin name, both my wife and I must be adopted into a Kachin clan first. After much discussion to ascertain the lines of mayu and dama among the Kachin community in Singapore, it was decided we should be adopted into the Tangbau clan. Soon after the birth of Seng Ing, we organized a full Jahtawng Htu (naming ceremony) at our home. It is with much honor and gratitude that I carry my adopted Kachin clan name even though I am neither a Kachin specialist nor born/married one.
I first carried out field research in Đồng Tháp province in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam back in 1997. I was still a rather young lad then. My Vietnamese language teacher, Mr Thạch Ngọc Minh, kindly introduced me to his friend’s home village to carry out a small scale study to understand how Vietnamese peasants were coping with changes unleashed by the Đổi Mới reforms. I spent most of that December living in the village. Under the guidance of my local mentor, the late Mr Đương Quốc Ái, and the care of his family, I began to learn about life in rural Vietnam, but more importantly, tình cảm among friends who treat each other as siblings or kinsmen. I will always keep in heart the kindness I received from anh Ái, his family, and the many nice people I met in the village. Thus was planted my close affinity with Vietnam.
In 1998, I began a long connection with the Central Highlands of Vietnam, more commonly referred to as Tây Nguyên among the Vietnamese. I would go on to write my M.A. thesis and Ph.D. dissertation about the Central Highland’s past and present. I conducted most of my field research in Đak Lak province, and in 1999, with official permission, I lived in a di dân tự do (free migrant) settlement in Ea Hleo district for a while. All this time, I was most fortunate to enjoy the companionship of Mr Đặng Định Trung. Anh Trung would go on to do his M.A. degree, complete his Ph.D. at the Australian National University, and become a much more outstanding researcher than I could be. During the more politically sensitive years between 2001 and 2005 in Tây Nguyên, I continued to visit my friends in Đak Lak. From 2003 to 2004, I carried out archival research about Tây Nguyên during the First Republic years (Đề Nhất Cộng Hoà). At the same time I made numerous visits to Đak Lak to discuss with friends and see for myself the things I learnt in the archive. From 2007 onwards, my field research extended to Lào Cai in the northern mountainous region of Vietnam and Yunnan province of China until I began my work with the Kachin people in Singapore and the birth of my daughter.
My family and I moved to Kyoto in 2011 when I joined the College of International Relations at Ritsumeikan University. This idea for inthefieldsafterclass would never have occurred had we not move to Kyoto. This idea for inthefieldsafterclass would never have been realized without the encouragement of Masao. To manage such a blog requires regular inspiration and constant support for dedicated commitment, and this could only come from my dearest family, Cecilia and Seng Ing.