Emily Thiessen is an illustrator from Victoria, Canada. In 2018 she graduated with a BA in Anthropology from the University of Victoria, where she explored ethnographic comics, drawing, and film. Now she creates visuals for community organisations, mostly working on projects related to social and environmental justice. She is also an illustrator for Anthropology News. You can see more of her work on her website or on Instagram.

The Duck Pond

“This comic was originally published in Cadernos de Arte e Antropologia. Read it in full here or as a pdf with an article about the process.

In 2017, I took a break from my anthropology degree to go to Xiamen, China. I had two missions: to improve my Mandarin, and to find the village where my grandfather was born. My mother’s family were among the thousands of people who emigrated from southern China to Southeast Asia during the early 20th century. My grandfather’s family traveled from China to Kuching, Malaysia when he was nine years old. No one else in my family has returned to where he was born, so I decided to search for the village and for a good story. I found something different than what I was expecting.

I kept a sketchbook journal during the trip, trying to soak in as many details as possible by drawing them. When I returned to Canada I pieced together reference images from my sketchbook, my own photos, and historical photos to create this comic.”