Vietnam Update: The Politics of Life – Call for Papers

[ndlr] Appel à communications.


2017 Vietnam Update: The Politics of Life

20-21 November 2017

Australian National University, Canberra

Vietnamese people often tell their foreign visitors that Vietnam is the most secure place in the world. The country has no terrorists, no political disorder, and the police are second to none. Decades of devastating warfare are long-past. Poverty is declining and incomes are rising in a region with good economic prospects. People in Vietnam appear to fling themselves at life’s everyday challenges with intensity and no little optimism.

But Vietnamese today are questioning ends and means, particularly as they relate to human security; they thirst for transparency and reliable ways to assert control over life. In the country and the city, in material, ideological and psychological realms, and at local, national and regional scales, the ability to feel secure is slipping away. This leads to high system maintenance costs and exhaustion as people exert themselves to amass the means and the trust they require to obtain existential security. Increasingly, questions are being asked as to whether life might be lived in a better way.

This Vietnam Update is dedicated to exploring the politics of life in Vietnam. The organisers call for original research papers that address the following sets of questions:

  1. For many Vietnamese, the most significant risks to life come from their own region as neighbours stake claims and leverage power asymmetries in ways perceived to be detrimental to the very existence of the country. Doubts about co-ordinating mutual security through ASEAN co-exist with concerns about the merits of rapprochement with America. Preoccupations with China manifest in anxieties about encirclement, infiltration, collusion, manipulation and incitement. How are such anxieties given voice and how does the government respond? Online criticisms and protests by activists are met with repression, but throughout the country – both within the government and beyond  – debate rages about how to secure the nation. One of the deepest questions is: who is to be trusted with the nation’s security?
  2. The recent censure and demotion of high level leaders for misconduct or poor performance attests to the openly competitive nature of political power. Party leaders continue to warn about the threats posed by ideological and moral degradation, but are there indications that leaders are being selected according to new standards of meritocratic governance? It has become conventional to tie political outcomes to factional power struggles or a contest over the spoils of patronage but to what extent does politics represent a contest between alternative visions for how the country should be governed and how life is to be lived?
  3. Capitalist market relations are central to gaining access to basic life needs formerly obtained through government programs, state enterprises and co-operatives, or via family, community or customary economies. Market logics influence the supply of housing, land, food, healthcare and education, and most government services attract formal or informal user fees. The pursuit of market efficiencies is linked to precarious livelihoods, indebtedness, and widening social disparities. How are such processes experienced and debated within Vietnamese society? Are there attempts to push back against or mitigate the commoditisation of life?
  4. Technology, industry, science and new production and exchange systems have unleashed material plenty and improved life for tens of millions of people. However, doubts about the benefits of headlong modernisation appear in concerns about the harm done by chemical effluents, carcinogens, pesticides and unsafe food, along with urban expansion, traffic chaos and unsafe workplaces. Agrarian intensification, agricultural commoditisation and land concentration have increased productivity but also engender livelihood insecurities and pose existential threats to rural communities and customary ways of life. In what ways are citizens suturing gaps and controlling such risks through mutual assistance, security from below, or deliberative modes of living and being?
  5. For a number of Vietnamese, the material, spiritual and psychological strains of modern life are such that a retreat into simpler modes of living, equated with the past, offers an appealing alternative. At the same time, tradition is blamed for ills as diverse as corruption, excessive drinking, age, gender and ethnic hierarchies, and doctrinaire thinking. As youths study abroad and gain exposure to the cultures of the world, many are led to wonder: what values and institutions work? Do Vietnamese need a state religion, a prescribed traditional or ‘Western’ culture, civics lessons, or democracy to have the means to obtain security and hold each-other to account?
  6. One of the most intriguing developments in the politics of life come from networks of activists who use media, community affiliations and ties to government insiders and resources to vocally and persistently oppose official development projects, land confiscations and foreign investments considered harmful to human wellbeing. Recent actions range from social media campaigns to sit-ins, flash demonstrations, and the capture of public officials by frustrated villagers. In this workshop we are interested to explore whether the politics of material security represents a singular domain in which citizens may significantly oppose or influence government decisions and development directions through engaging in overt political action perhaps in ways not seen previously in Vietnam.

The organisers are seeking proposals for papers on these themes to be presented at a conference to be held at the ANU, Canberra on 20-21 November 2017.

Proposal Submission:
Interested contributors should send their proposals and a one page CV to Philip Taylor by 20 June 2017. Email:

Each proposal should be no longer than 600 words. The proposal should outline how the paper relates to the issues highlighted in the above sets of questions and the kind of research the paper will be based on. Preference will be given to papers that promise a rich analysis and have an interdisciplinary dimension. The conference organisers will then decide which proposals to accept. We will then extend invitations to the authors of the selected proposals to prepare and present their papers to the conference. The organisers also reserve the right to solicit papers, if necessary, from individuals who did not submit proposals.

Funding for travel and accommodation is available and details will be discussed later with each paper presenter.

Paper Specifications:
The paper itself should be submitted 30 days before the date of the conference.

The paper should not exceed 10,000 words and it should include appropriate bibliography and citations. Each paper should include an abstract of 250 words.

Presentation and Publication:
We envisage about twelve paper presentations during a two day workshop in Canberra on 20-21 November 2017. At the Update each author will have approximately 40 minutes to summarise what her/his paper argues and the evidence used.

The conference will also include presentations about recent political and economic developments in Vietnam.

Organisers request the right of first refusal with regards to publishing the accepted papers, which may be included, subject to any necessary revisions to meet publication requirements, in a refereed book or journal collection that we hope will be published within a year of the conference.

For more information on this Vietnam Update theme or questions about paper proposals please contact Philip Taylor (

Vietnam Update Committee: Huong Le Thu; Phuc To; Ashley Carruthers; Kim Huynh; David Marr; Tana Li; Benedict Kerkvliet; Sango Mahanty.

Changing Lives in Laos: Society, Politics, and Culture in a Post-Socialist State [parution]

[ndlr] Parution d’une nouvelle publication sur le Laos contemporain sous la direction de Vatthana Pholsena et Vanina Bouté. Présentation de l’éditeur.

Changing Lives in Laos:

Society, Politics, and Culture in a Post-Socialist State

Edited by Vanina Bouté and Vatthana Pholsena

Changes in the character of the political regime in Laos after 2000, a massive influx of foreign investment, and disruptions to rural life arising from improved communications and new forms of mobility within and across the borders have produced a major transformation across the country. Witnessing these changes, a group of scholars carried out studies that document the rise of a new social, cultural and economic order. The contributions to this volume draw on original fieldwork materials and unpublished sources, and provide fresh analyses of topics ranging from the structures of power to the politics of territoriality and new forms of sociability in emerging urban spaces.

« In Changing Lives in Laos, Vanina Bouté and Vatthana Pholsena have assembled an invaluable collection of papers on Laos by key established and emerging scholars of the country. While Laos remains under-studied compared to most of the region, these chapters show an increasingly thorough engagement with people and places and a better understanding of the texture of transition and transformation. »
Jonathan Rigg, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore

« This new book on Laos, edited by two leading specialists on this country, features articles by a new generation of historians, anthropologists, geographers and political scientists. Studying state formation, new economic trends, and issues such as the cultural integration of ethnic minorities and rural migration, this interesting book brilliantly demonstrates how in less than fifty years Lao society has been deeply transformed. »
Yves Goudineau, Director of the French School of Asian Studies (EFEO), Chair in Comparative Anthropology of Southeast Asia (Paris)


List of Illustrations
1. Introduction
Vanina Bouté and Vatthana Pholsena

2. The History and Evolution of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party
Martin Rathie
3. Shaping the National Topography: The Party-State, National Imageries, and Questions of Political Authority in Lao PDR
Oliver Tappe
4. ‘Special Operation Pagoda’: Buddhism, Covert Operations, and the Politics of Religious Subversion in Cold-War Laos (1957-60)
Patrice Ladwig
5. War Generation: Youth Mobilization and Socialization in Revolutionary Laos
Vatthana Pholsena
6. Socialist Pathways of Education: The Lao in East Germany
Nicole Reichert

7. The Poltical Ecology of Upland/Lowland Relationships in Laos since 1975
Olivier Évrard and Ian G. Baird
8. The New ‘New Battlefield’: Capitalizing Security in Laos’ Agribusiness Landscape
Michael B. Dwyer
9. Reaching the Cities: New Forms of Network and Social Differentiation in Northern Laos
Vanina Bouté

10. Ethnic Belonging in Laos: A Politico-Historical Perspective
Grégoire Schlemmer
11. Piglets Are Buffaloes: Buddhification and the Reduction of Sacrifices on the Boloven Plateau
Guido Sprenger
12. Rubber’s Affective Economies: Seeding a Social Landscape in Northwest Laos
Chris Lyttleton and Yunxia Li

13. Migration and Mobility in Laos
Sverre Molland
14. Patterns and Consequences of Undocumented Migration from Lao PDR to Thailand
Kabmanivanh Phouxay
15. Textiles Economy in Laos: From the Household to the World
Annabel Vallard


Source : NUS Press

Ngọc Thu : Lời Chia Tay [L’au revoir du blog Ba Sàm]

[ndlr] Le blog d’informations politiques Ba Sàm (« organe d’information de l’Agence de presse du trottoir ») fondé en 2007 par Nguyen Huu Vinh (actuellement emprisonné) et repris en main par Dinh Ngoc Thu ferme ses portes. Dinh Ngoc Thu qui a sacrifié ses huit dernières années à la vie du blog s’en explique dans une lettre d’adieu aux lecteurs/trices.

April 13, 2017

Dear readers of Ba Sàm,

Against my wish but unavoidably, I’ve written this letter to take leave of you. Many of you will be disappointed; I ask your pardon.

In 2009, when the Ba Sàm blog was two years old, . . . [Nguyễn Hưu] Vinh could not manage all the work himself and so, as a complete novice, I agreed to assist him.

Neither as an editor nor as an online publisher had I ever done any work like my work for Ba Sàm. From June 2011 until now it has been on average a 10+ hour responsibility, seven days every week, thirty days a month, never resting or receiving any compensation. Nearly eight years have passed.

It is uniquely you, Ba Sàm’s readers, who have inspired me to keep up this work. Several million hits every month! That’s just a dream for most people who venture to blog. Those hits have shown me that Ba Sàm has so many devoted readers, and that’s the particular reason why, although I told myself dozens of times and promised my family that I’d tear myself away, I didn’t give it up.

For eight of Ba Sàm’s nearly ten years, I’ve devoted my time and effort to Ba Sàm’s survival, despite the opposition of certain people. However, there’s a limit to one’s strength. In addition to my duty to my native land, I also have obligations to many others I hold dear.

Once again, I ask readers who have given Ba Sàm their love and loyalty to pardon me. Please remember that I will never forget your many e-mails and messages, your words of encouragement and tacit confidence, the news items, photos and comments you’ve sent, the help you’ve given me in choosing and translating articles. . . .

I have made arrangements to discontinue publishing Ba Sàm on April 20, 2017. I know this will prompt a lot of e-mail — more than I can answer — so I’m opening a column for comment, as a way to keep in touch and to store reminders of labor that’s been hard but also beautiful.


Đinh Ngọc Thu

Traduction partiellement du vietnamien par David Brown.

Source : Ba Sàm, 13/04/2017.

Démonstration de force : Hàng ngàn người dân biểu tình ở huyện Lộc Hà – RFA Vietnamese News

[ndlr] Manifestation de pêcheurs vietnamiens dans le centre du pays le 3 avril 2017. Reportages vidéographiques sur l’occupation du siège du Comité populaire du district de Loc Ha (province de Ha Tinh) par la population remontée contre la répression policière exercée sur des manifestants réclamant de comptes à l’entreprise Formosa, responsable de la pollution maritime au centre du pays en 2016. Un an après cette catastrophe écologique, les pêcheurs attendent toujours l’indemnisation promise.

Voir aussi la vidéo lauréate du 54e Prix du Reporter de Rue (Giải Phóng Viên Vỉa Hè 54).

Le 3 avril dernier, des paysans sont venus manifester devant le Centre administratif du Comité du Peuple de Loc Hà pour demander des clarifications concernant la catastrophe écologique causée par la société Formosa (250 km de mer polluée au centre Vietnam). Pour la première fois, des paysans ont pu déjouer toutes les ruses du pouvoir et ont repéré des policiers en civil infiltrés dans des groupes de manifestants. (Dans les bousculades, un policier est tombé et est resté inanimé calmement pendant deux heures sans aucune tentative de secours !). Source : VNinfos

Vidéo sur Facebook

Image « à la une » : la banderole dit « Nous autres pêcheurs, il faut nous indemniser ».

Journal d’Indochine 1949–1951

[ndlr] Signalement d’un projet en cours. Le designer graphique Sébastien Noguera (studio Chateau Fort Fort), travaille sur la transcription du carnet de guerre journalier, manuscrit et photographique, que son grand-père le gendarme Bernard Crombèke a rédigé durant sa période d’engagement en Indochine (1949–1951).

Complément photographique du «Journal d’Indochine 1949–1951» du gendarme Bernard Crombèke. Voici une sélection issue des 400 clichés datés et légendés du carnet de guerre décrivant le quotidien d’êtres humains au sein d’un des grands conflits du XXe siècle: la guerre d’Indochine (1946–1954). L’anthropologie d’un conflit…

Journal d'Indochine 1949—1951 from Château Fort Fort on Vimeo.

Un site à visiter 65 photos d’époque en ligne :

Page Facebook :

Vietnam-Indochina-Japan Relations during the Second World War [parution]

[ndlr] Parution du deuxième volet du projet de recherche de la Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), n° 25243007 intitulé « Comprehensive Study for New Developments in Japan-French Indochina-Vietnam Relations during the Second World War ».

Volume édité sous la direction de Masaya Shiraishi, Nguyen Van Khanh et Bruce M. Lockhart, Tokyo : Waseda University Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies (WIAPS), February 2017, 333 p.


Sur le premier volet de ce projet, voir :



Michael Goebel : Paris, capitale du tiers monde. Comment est née la révolution anticoloniale (1919-1939)

[ndlr] Parution à La Découverte d’une étude intéressante et importante (450 p.) sur la l’organisation et la lutte des immigrés de Paris contre l’impérialisme et l’oppression coloniale. Présentation de l’éditeur.

Ce livre retrace l’expansion, au cours de l’entre-deux-guerres, de l’anti-impérialisme mondial, mouvement dans lequel Paris joua un rôle de tout premier plan. La Ville Lumière accueillit en effet d’innombrables futurs leaders tiers-mondistes qui vinrent y faire, sans même le savoir, leur formation politique – formation qui, en retour, les mènera vers l’une des plus fantastiques déflagrations révolutionnaires de l’histoire. Dans ce Paris incroyablement cosmopolite où affluaient les âmes errantes venues du monde entier, on pouvait ainsi croiser Hô Chi Minh, Zhou Enlai, Léopold Sédar Senghor, C. L. R. James, George Padmore, Messali Hadj ou le révolutionnaire indien M. N. Roy. En étudiant le contexte sociopolitique parisien dans lequel ces apprentis activistes évoluaient, ce livre nous plonge dans des complots d’assassinat prétendument ourdis par des étudiants chinois, dans des manifestations menées par des nationalistes latino-américains, ou simplement dans la vie quotidienne des ouvriers algériens, sénégalais ou vietnamiens.

Sur la base de rapports de police et autres sources de première main, Michael Goebel montre le rôle de force motrice essentiel joué par les mouvements migratoires et les interactions vécues au sein des milieux immigrés dans le développement de l’opposition à l’ordre impérial mondial, qui a fait se croiser les histoires de peuples issus de trois continents.

S’appuyant sur les travaux de l’histoire globale et impériale, et sur les études des questions migratoires et « raciales » en France, ce livre ne propose rien de moins qu’une compréhension renouvelée des origines de l’idée de tiers monde et de tiers-mondisme.

Mickaël Goebel est historien. Il enseigne l’histoire globale et de l’Amérique latine à la Freie Universität de Berlin.

Source : La Découverte

Image « à la une » : Nguyen Ai Quoc (le futur Ho Chi Minh) lors du congrès fondateur du Parti communiste français (Congrès de Tours) en 1920 © DR

U.S. Intelligence on Asia, 1945-1991

[ndlr] Un nouveau fonds disponible pour la recherche sur l’Asie contemporaine.

Editor: Matthew M. Aid

La décolonisation et la guerre vécues par les populations du Viêt-Nam, du Laos et du Cambodge