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Connected and Disconnected in Viet Nam

Connected and Disconnected in Viet Nam: Remaking Social Relations in a Post-socialist Nation OPEN ACCESS

Series: Vietnam Series
Copyright Date: 2016
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Connected and Disconnected in Viet Nam
    Book Description:

    Vietnam’s shift to a market-based society has brought about profound realignments in its people’s relations with each other. As the nation continues its retreat from the legacies of war and socialism, significant social rifts have emerged that divide citizens by class, region and ethnicity. By drawing on social connections as a traditional resource, Vietnamese are able to accumulate wealth, overcome marginalisation and achieve social mobility. However, such relationship-building strategies are also fraught with peril for they have the potential to entrench pre-existing social divisions and lead to new forms of disconnectedness. This book examines the dynamics of connection and disconnection in the lives of contemporary Vietnamese. It features 11 chapters by anthropologists who draw upon research in both highland and lowland contexts to shed light on social capital disparities, migration inequalities and the benefits and perils of gift exchange. The authors investigate ethnic minority networks, the politics of poverty, patriotic citizenship, and the ‘heritagisation’ of culture. Tracing shifts in how Vietnamese people relate to their consociates and others, the chapters elucidate the social legacies of socialism, nation-building and the transition to a globalised market-based economy. With compelling case studies and including many previously unheard perspectives, this book offers original insights into social ties and divisions among the modern Vietnamese.

    eISBN: 978-1-76046-000-6
    Subjects: Anthropology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Philip Taylor

    Connections are the source of life in Vietnam. The tangible and intangible ties that bind Vietnamese people to their families and compatriots are characteristically rich and are constitutive of self, community, and nation. In traditional Vietnam, the person was enmeshed in relations(quan hê)of hierarchy and reciprocity that structured family life and the thicket of mutual exchanges that typified the traditional village. The Vietnamese polity has long drawn metaphorically on relations of this kind, as rulers have utilised idioms of kinship and debt to secure legitimacy, command loyalty, and promote social cohesion. History has been made by people who...

  2. Hy V. Luong

    The salience of social connections or social capital in Vietnam is summed up in a contemporary Vietnamese saying regarding different factors of importance in the Vietnamese labour market:‘nhât hâu duê, nhì quan hê, ba tiên tê, bôn trí tuê’(‘Of first importance is descent; second are social relations; third is money; and fourth is the intellect’). Such a saying may over-simplify reality, but it is a fact that ethnic Vietnamese from all walks of life think first and foremost of social connections in their search for the solutions to various problems in their daily lives: from the purchase of...

  3. Nguyen Thi Thanh Binh

    This chapter tells the story of a return migrant in Bắc Ðồng,¹ a village in Hà Nam Province of northern Vietnam where I carried out extended anthropological fieldwork in the late 2000s.² From my first days in this village, I had heard stories about a rich village woman living in Hồ Chí Minh City whose life and career had become legend. According to these stories, she had been one of the richest people in Sài Gòn in the 1980s and 1990s, a room in her house was sometimes full of money, and hundreds of workers were under her command. People...

  4. Linh Khanh Nguyen

    This chapter discusses the pattern of rural-to-rural migration to and from a rural fishing community called Hải Thành¹ in northern Vietnam.² I unpack this double migration pattern in order to illustrate the intimate relationship of mobility, social class and displacement. Hải Thành is famous in Vietnam as the community that has sent the largest percentage, nationwide, of its young women abroad in transnational marriages to foreign men in East Asia (transnational women). Hải Thành men are also well-known offshore fishermen who travel away 20 days per month and who, due to the transnational marriages of local women, have had to...

  5. Yen Le

    One afternoon, I was sitting with Grandpa Thiện¹ in front of his house. He looked happy that afternoon, blissfully watching a whole new batch of chickens born a few weeks before. The quiet yard in front of his house was animated by cheerful, chirpy little chickens running around here and there. Grandpa Thiện was proud that his stock of chickens had increased remarkably with each batch of newborn chicks, and he was hopeful that the price of chickens remained stable, so that when they grew up, his wife would be able to sell them at a good price.

    He told...

  6. Nguyen Thu Huong

    Kon Tum City. Early morning in May 2012. Start of the rainy season. I was on my way to a Bahnar village located in the heart of the city. The road was wide and clean, lined with tall trees and modern buildings that house the People’s Committee and various local services — the very nerve centre of the provincial government. Flags and banners in red and gold fluttered in the wind, commemorating the centenary anniversary of the foundation of the province (1913–2013). Further down the road, I saw a dozen men, some squatting on the sidewalk, some standing idly by....

  7. Peter Chaudhry

    The state is a pervasive presence in the everyday lives of the people of Vinh Thủy commune, a remote and mountainous commune in Vietnam’s northern Lào Cai Province.¹ State-owned companies dominate business, the state underwrites agricultural production, and state rituals and state cadre regulate social life in a way unimaginable in urban and lowland areas of the country. But the state’s presence is perhaps felt most keenly through the provision of poverty reduction and welfare support to the people of the commune. This support increased enormously throughout the 1990s and is now a defining feature of the relationship between the...

  8. Ha Viet Quan

    We arrived at Lò Vi An’s house in Châu La Biên,¹ a northwest province, quite late from Hà Nội because the lunch-stop at Châu Quỳnh town took much longer than we had planned. Lò Vi An seemed a bit tired from the rice wine during lunch but he was satisfied with the warm hospitality provided by Cầm Chung, a Thai leader of Châu Quỳnh District, and his entourage. Lò Vi An’s house impressed me with its luxurious interior: a big garage, digital security camera system, elevator, and other modern appointments. However, as soon as I crossed the living room with...

  9. Philip Taylor

    In 2015 I met a 32-year-old man from a small village in Trà Vinh, a province of the Mekong Delta which is home to many of Vietnam’s ethnic minority Khmer. He had grown up in a family of landless farmers in a village that only recently had been connected to a sealed road. Like many Khmer students in this remote and impoverished province, he had dropped out of state school after only five years, and his Vietnamese was not good. He had, however, studied for several years in temple schools in his district where, while ordained as a monk, he...

  10. Oscar Salemink

    In 2011, UNESCO inscribed the fourteenth-century Citadel of the Hồ Dynasty in Vietnam’s Thanh Hòa Province on the World Heritage List, thereby both recognising and rewarding Vietnam’s efforts in conserving the archaeological site, as well as obliging it to meet UNESCO’s official conservation standards. In an article titled ‘Hồ Citadel the Site of a Modern Conflict’ in the English-language newspaperViệt Nam Newsof 8 June 2014, Deputy Director of the Centre for Conservation of the Hồ Dynasty Citadel World Heritage, Nguyễn Xuân Toán, lamented that local people continued to ‘build houses and other civil works’ in the area, in...

  11. Edyta Roszko

    An unexpected sea breeze coming from the north on a Friday morning in June 2014 promised a bit of respite from the heat on Lỳ Son Island, located about 30 kilometres offshore from Quảng Ngãi Province in Vietnam and 123 nautical miles (ca. 228 km) from the Paracel Archipelago.¹ Every Friday and Saturday, I sipped my morning coffee in one of the local café shops near the port, updated myself on village affairs, and observed the stream of Vietnamese tourists flowing from the ship onto the seashore. Most of them were taken by cars to newly built hotels and small...