Work Defines Culture


As you travel from place to place, you discover that people have an amazing variety of occupations.

Work is one of the most defining aspects of culture. Work is always specific to geographical location, climate, religion, history and so on. All of the different aspects can vary greatly and all of these variations can combine to form unique cultural environments.

Much of the work in Southeast Asia revolves around rice. It has been the main food source here for the last 10.000 years or so. During this time people have learned to use rice for lots of different things, not necessarily food related. They have integrated it in their culture, in their religious rituals, it has become much more than just food. It is a symbol. It defines them and dictates much of their lives.

I photographed this woman in the Mekong Delta, while she was making rice paper. For centuries, rice paper has been used for writing and displaying artwork, but in this particular case, it is used to make spring rolls, a traditional Asian appetizer, for which the recipe varies greatly from one region to another, even within the same country.

 

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