Archives par mot-clé : anthropologie

Richard Owens: Measuring smallholder land investments in Northwest Vietnam: A cross-cultural study of three highland villages… [PhD] – presented by Jean Michaud

[ndlr] Message de Jean Michaud paru initialement sur VSG et reproduit sur Mémoires d’Indochine avec son aimable autorisation.

Richard Owens with Hmong farmers during harvest season for dry rice in Thuan Chau district, Son La Province, Northwest Vietnam.
Richard Owens with Hmong farmers during harvest season for dry rice in Thuan Chau district, Son La Province, Northwest Vietnam.

This to congratulate Richard Owens who has recently defended successfully his PhD dissertation in social anthropology at University of Georgia (USA) titled “Measuring smallholder land investments in Northwest Vietnam: A cross-cultural study of three highland villages in Phỏng Lái commune, Sơn La province.”

His abstract states:

“In this dissertation, I investigate the connection between land tenure and the conservation of natural resources in the northwestern uplands of Vietnam (Son La province) through a focus on the political and economic forces that shape smallholder investment practices. Within a historically-informed context, I analyze and compare smallholder land use decisions among Kinh, Hmong, and Thai groups considering identity, cultural practices, and household economics.  Recently, Vietnam has banned swidden agriculture in favor of the intensification of upland agriculture. To that purpose, it has provided technology, subsidies, and extension services targeted to lowland majority development models.

During the course of this dissertation, I analyze soil conservation activities in three villages (between and within designs) and across the commune at the household level.  Results from investment activities (short-term, long-term and household rate categories) show that smallholders’ long-term investments are significantly smaller in relation to household investments. I contend that there are a number of social, economic, and environmental reasons for why Hmong, Thai and Kinh are not making significant soil conservation investments. State polices aimed at suppressing swidden agriculture have been replaced with intensive upland farming, leading to increased erosion and land degradation. Traditional swidden systems do not require inputs, hence they are not receiving long-term investments. Upland farming is possible through the use of inorganic fertilizers that are necessary for HYV maize production. Examining the failure of the property rights to conserve natural resources this research makes a significant contribution to the theory of property rights This study considers the socio-cultural and economics dynamics of land title and natural resource management. “

What I would also like to stress about Richard’s work is that he finds that ethnicity matters when locals get to assess economic opportunities and make strategic choices. The Hmông and Thái ways, he finds, are distinct from the Kinh’s and express different views on modernity, identity and aspirations. His research thus dovetails nicely with other recent dissertations based in rural communities of the northern highlands stressing that these non-Kinh societies show creativity and pro-activity in the course of their social and symbolic reproduction, such as (among others) Jennifer Sowerwine (Berkeley 2004), Bent Jørgensen (Göteborg 2006), Tran Hong Hanh (Freie U. Berlin 2006), Christine Bonnin (McGill 2011), Achariya Choowonglert (Chiang Mai 2012), Ho Ngoc Son (ANU 2012), and O’Briain (Sheffield 2012).

Jean Michaud
Département d’Anthropologie / Université Laval (Québec)

Vo Nguyen Giap and Pierre Gourou [by John Kleinen]

Gourou_NguoiNongDanChauThoBacKy[ndlr] Message de l’anthropologue et historien John Kleinen publié avec son aimable autorisation. John Kleinen rappelle dans ce court message un aspect peu connu de la vie de Vo Nguyen Giap dans les années 1930.

Vo Nguyen Giap worked for Pierre Gourou at an earlier stage than 1937-1938. As I noted in my article “Tropicality and topicality: Pierre Gourou and the genealogy of French colonial scholarship on rural Vietnam” (2005: 348-349, see abstract below), he collected field data for Gourou’s ‘supplementary thesis’ about Vietnamese housing in central Vietnam as early as 1935. Gourou also told me in August 1994, when I interviewed him at length that he met Giap for the first time in 1931 when he (Giap) was freed on probation. They met again  in 1946 at the Dalat conference. In the early nineties, Giap travelled to Brussels to see his old professor. This meeting has never be denied by Giap, and according to Gourou it was a polite and pleasant event.

Read more (in Vietnamese) : Võ Nguyên Giáp – Một sinh viên “ưu thời mẫn thế”, TTCT [Tuoi Tre Cuoi Tuan], 13/10/2013.

John Kleinen, “Tropicality and topicality: Pierre Gourou and the genealogy of French colonial scholarship on rural Vietnam”, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, Vol. 26, Issue 3, pp. 339-358, November 2005.

This article discusses the relevance of the work of Pierre Gourou for Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese scholarship on colonial and postcolonial rural society in Vietnam. The term “tropicality” is used to situate Gourou’s work within the framework of both French and Vietnamese regimes of truth. It is argued that Gourou was aware of the complex human geographies of the tropics and monsoon Asia and the challenges this posed to both Western and “tropical” peoples. Gourou and the issue of tropicality is used to show that Vietnamese scholars did not completely reject French colonial systems of knowledge, and that decolonisation did not herald a complete shift in knowledge about rural Vietnam. Rather, since the 1940s there has been antagonism and accommodation between colonial and postcolonial, French and Vietnamese modes of knowledge production. While Gourou underscored the otherness of the tropics, and there are colonial overtones in his work, he had an immense influence on indigenous ethnography and geography in Vietnam and elsewhere in the formerly colonised world. The article traces this important influence and how it has been both questioned and affirmed since independence in the Vietnamese context. It is suggested that the humanistic approach that Gourou pioneered in his 1936 study of the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam has outlived and been able to overcome the setbacks and drawbacks of both colonial and revolutionary/Vietnamese politico-intellectual projects.

Source : Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography

L’article est en ligne sur le site de John Kleinen (page de présentation, bas de page) : Article about Gourou

Natalie Newton – A queer political economy of ‘community’: Gender, space, and the transnational politics of community for Vietnamese lesbians (les) in Saigon

[ndlr] Message de Daniel C. Tsang concernant la thèse de doctorat en anthropologie de Natalie Newton sur l’homosexualité féminine au Viêt-Nam. La thèse est en accès libre sur “ProQuest open access”. Message publié sur le site du Vietnam Studies Group, le 16 mars 2013.

Heartfelt congratulations to Natalie Newton – newly minted (2012) Ph.D in Anthropology from University of California, Irvine, for her pioneering study of lesbians in a rapidly developing Vietnam. She offers a sympathetic look into an otherwise-academically neglected subculture while analyzing critically the impact of NGOs. Her dissertation challenges not only liberal notions of the role NGOs play in building civil societies in the developing world but also strikes at conventional views on the globalization of queer identities. She offers a brilliantly contextualized analysis that overarching models of globalization tends to ignore.

Thanks to Natalie, her dissertation is now available on the ProQuest open access site, PQDT Open, where the full-text of her work can be freely downloaded:

She thanks several academics who are VSG members in her acknowledgements but I am sure we will agree that she, rather than any of us, deserves the the credit for this truly path-breaking work. After all, chapter 5 won the Kenneth Payne Prize in 2012 for graduate work in queer anthropology from the Association for Queer Anthropologists, a division of the American Anthropological Association. Her research was also funded by the Fulbright-Hays Foundation, UC Pacific Rim, Center for Asian Studies (UCI), UCI Department of Anthropology, and the James Harvey Dissertation award.

Dan (Daniel C. Tsang)

© 2012 Maika Elan
  • A queer political economy of ‘community’: Gender, space, and the transnational politics of community for Vietnamese lesbians (les) in Saigon by Newton, Natalie Nancy, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, 2012, 471; AAT 3547300


This project is an ethnographic study of how the globalization of LGBT rights through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) interfaces with existing Vietnamese lesbian gender, sexual subjectivities, and community projects that are “hidden in plain sight” in Saigon. Vietnam is one among five “communist-party led” countries, although Vietnam is associated with rapid post-war economic growth and investment opportunity as a kind of “emerging Asian tiger.” Scholars have tracked how these postsocialist socioeconomic changes have facilitated the emergence of new sexual and gender subjectivities in Vietnam. Simultaneously, the global LGBT human rights movement has gained increasing international precedence, especially with the United Nation’s first resolution to protect “sexual orientation and gender identity” as a universal human right in 2010. This study argues that Vietnamese lesbians (self-identified as les) navigate the contingencies of local and global “invisibility” as a community in Saigon in ways that challenge fundamental structures of the NGO-ization of the global LGBT movement. I argue that many Vietnamese les projects do the work of civil society through what I call a queer political economy of ‘community,’ outside of and in spite of the global LGBT movement.

This is the first ethnographic study of Vietnamese female homosexuality. This study triangulates 21 months of ethnographic data from 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009-2010 in Saigon, video- and audio-recordings of les events, 75 recorded interviews, and Vietnamese popular media. I critique methodological “homo-orientalism” that shaped my research design studying a community that “doesn’t exist” to many institutions. This study is among the first to shed light upon Vietnamese “gender” (giới tính) as a complex gender and sexual subjectivity, which challenges conceptions of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” used in the global LGBT movement. The les projects highlighted in this study–such as the les -exclusive café, les sport championship, and les charity events–show how prior research on postsocialist civil society may be inadequate to encompass les community formation in relation to the State and the global LGBT movement. This research captures key political and cultural tensions in the growing global LGBT human rights movement, as it assimilates ever more sectors of the developing world.

Table of contents:


  • CHAPTER 1: Introduction 1
  • CHAPTER 2: Ethnography of a Community that ‘Doesn’t Exist’: 59

Homo-orientalism and the politics of methodology in my project on Vietnamese les community

  • CHAPTER 3: Lesbophobia and Negative Community Formation: 111

‘Trendy les,’ the State, and Vietnamese womanhood

  • CHAPTER 4: Les Sexual Subjectivity: 174

Giới tính as a gender/sex construct and Come out for les

  • CHAPTER 5: Contingent Invisibility: 211

Space, community, and invisibility for les in Saigon

  • CHAPTER 6: Contingent Visibility: 246

Vietnamese NGOs and the globalization of LGBT human rights

  • CHAPTER 7: In the Name of ‘Les Community’: 304

How les do the work of civil society through a queer political economy of ‘community’?

  • CHAPTER 8: Conclusion 369

APPENDIX A: Contemporary Vietnamese government structure in relation to NGOs 412
APPENDIX B: Timeline of VNGO work leading to LGBT human rights projects 413
APPENDIX C: Sharing Information in Action (SIA) organizational flow chart 415
APPENDIX D: International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) homepage 416
APPENDIX E: Lesbian Games League (LGL) accounting of 2010 games 417
APPENDIX F: Conference Paper: ?Friendship, Family, and Feminism: Transnational Feminist Analysis of the Lives of Les in Hanoi and Saigon? (Newton 2007) 420
APPENDIX G: Conference Paper: ?Les is more: Challenges with Lesbian (les) Inclusion in Vietnam?s LGBT Rights Organizing (Newton 2011) 432
APPENDIX H: Conference Paper: ?Space performativity: Vietnamese lesbian gender and Community space in the production of neoliberal subjectivities (Newton 2012) 445

Source : Vietnam Studies Group