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Speakers of a Tibeto-Burman language, a little over a century ago Lisu communities moved into Thailand from Myanmar for reasons connected to poor harvests, high taxes but also banditry.

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Most Lisu groups have embraced Christianity, with the exception of those in northwest Thailand, which are the smallest and least Christianised. Their propensity to shun authority is manifest in their living at a safe distance from conventional forms of government, while conveniently allowing for opium farming at high altitude.

Though loss of full Lisu language ability has been observed in the younger generation, particularly in urbanised settings, they have developed a core of "Lisu-ness" which endures despite intermarrying with and living among other hill-dwelling tribes. This central core is integral to the Lisu psyche that defines their ethnicity despite cross-border migrations, large-scale conversions and displacement.

This core, impervious to change, is the nexus, or point of contact, where cash connects Lisu and non-Lisu, while labour and social relations pervade contact between Lisu and Lisu. The Lisu are praised for their particular brand of egalitarianism, devoid of class or caste. No one clan is superior to another and respect is not bestowed but must be earned along with one's place in the community.

Land of the Patriarchs

The concept of myi-do repute underpins the standing enjoyed by Lisu individuals, where myi means name and do signifies power in the sense of accomplishment. Myi-do is not inherited through family lineage but is earned through hard work, fulfilling personal obligations, correct speech and adherence to Lisu customs. Equal opportunities do not apply to bloodline, which is governed by a strict patrilineal transmission.

Only men can become shamans but, though women hold the purse strings, they are nevertheless subordinate to men. In gender roles, courtship and sexuality, girls are expected to know about sha-taw shame and males must be resourceful, protective and clever. Similarly to other cultures, modesty in females is a virtue, at least until marriage, when the stress of the constant concern about shame is replaced by the stress of living with the husband's family.

A prospective bride as young as 10 or 11 occasionally moves in with her future husband's family for safekeeping. Not dissimilar from the Chinese theory of yin and yang, life, activities, customs and rituals are conducted along dualistic principles man:woman, heaven:earth, east:west, top:bottom, left:right.

In the land of the Lisu

The Lisu ascribe two components to a human being: a body and a soul. Though often spoken of in the singular, the soul is held to be multiple, with women having seven souls and men nine. Upon death, the soul floats to the sky above while the bones go to the earth below. Dualism is also observed in the division of labour, with men marketing produce in lowland towns and women engaging in childcare and cooking.

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Both sexes work equally hard in the fields, albeit at different tasks. The Lisu way of life is largely secluded in isolated villages, slowing down assimilation while preserving the traditional. A high-profile panel of judges selects the top ideas. Ideas are sought from the fields of business, environment, society, culture, and education that benefit Germany and its inhabitants. Since more than 2, projects have been recognised.

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In , the competition was given an annual theme for the first time, and focused on cities. In , the judges honoured the best ideas for shaping rural regions. Rural Space. Cookies facilitate the provision of our services.

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