Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Tradition, Revolution, and Market Economy in a North Vietnamese Village, 1925-2006

Tradition, Revolution, and Market Economy in a North Vietnamese Village, 1925-2006

Hy V. Luong
Copyright Date: 2010
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Tradition, Revolution, and Market Economy in a North Vietnamese Village, 1925-2006
    Book Description:

    Tradition, Revolution, and Market Economy in a North Vietnamese Village examines both continuity and change over eight decades in a small rural village deep in the North Vietnamese countryside. Son-Duong, a community near the Red River, experienced firsthand the ravages of French colonialism and the American war, as well as the socialist revolution and Vietnam’s recent reintegration into the global market economy. In this revised and expanded edition of his 1992 book, Revolution in the Village, Hy V. Luong draws on newly available archival documents in Hanoi, narratives by villagers, and three field seasons from the late 1980s to 2006. He situates his finely drawn village portrait within the historical framework of the Vietnamese revolution and the recent reforms in Vietnam. The richness of the oral testimony of surviving villagers enables the author to follow them throughout political and economic upheavals, compiling a wealth of original data as they actively restructure their daily lives. In his analysis of the implications of these data for theoretical models of agrarian transformation, Luong argues that local traditions have played a major role in shaping villagers’ responses to colonialism, socialist policies, and the global market economy. His work, spanning eight decades of sociocultural change, will interest students and scholars of the Vietnamese revolution, agrarian politics, peasant societies, French colonialism, and socialist transformation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6082-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Abbreviations and Units of Measure
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Like virtually all other rural communities in the Red River delta of North Vietnam, the village of Sơn-Dương, lying behind a bamboo hedge, is well hidden from the paved provincial highway. In order to get to the village, one has to turn off the provincial highway onto a potholeridden dirt road. A one-mile ride along this road into the village leaves a vehicle completely covered either with dirt or red mud from the potholes, depending on whether the road has been baked in the hot sun or watered by a tropical summer downpour. The dirt road continues well beyond Sơn-Dương,...

  7. Part I. Historical Events and Village Structure in Colonial Northern Vietnam

    • CHAPTER 1 Vietnamese Anticolonialism, 1884–1930: A Microscopic Perspective on Historical Events
      (pp. 25-50)

      On February 10, 1930, the Ministry of Colonies in Paris received a “most urgent” cable reporting that two Vietnamese companies in the colonial infantry had revolted in Yên-Báy, a town located 153 kilometers northeast of Hanoi (AOM-P-NF,322–2614). Other “urgent” cables reported armed violence in the northern provinces of Phú-Thọ, Thái-Bình, and Hải-Dương, as well as bombing incidents at colonial government buildings in Hanoi. The initial report of three casualties among the ranking French officers in Yên-Báy was subsequently revised upward to ten. The revolt received heavy coverage in the press of both the French metropolis and the Far Eastern...

    • CHAPTER 2 Village Structure in Revolutionary Processes, 1925–1930
      (pp. 51-96)

      In Hanoi on November 23, 1925, Phan Bội Châu, the soul of anticolonial activism, was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor. On March 24, 1926, Phan Chu Trinh, the other much-admired anticolonialist and the primary spokesman for the reformist school, died in Saigon shortly after his return to Vietnam from a fourteen-year exile in France. The trial of Phan Bội Châu in Hanoi provoked nationwide agitation for his pardon. In Saigon 60,000 mourners attended Phan Chu Trinh’s funeral procession. His passing was also observed in at least sixteen other localities throughout the country (Marr 1981:15–23).

      These tumultuous events...

    • CHAPTER 3 In the Name of “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity”
      (pp. 97-120)

      In the aftermath of the Vietnamese Nationalist Party uprising in February 1930, the French undertook quick and strong repressive measures. In Yên-Báy French troops maintained a careful check on the population. They prohibited the movement of wood rafts down the Red River from the highlands and hindered other normal economic activities, causing a loss of 10,000 piasters in revenue in March alone. As a collective punishment, the defensive bamboo hedges of Sơn-Dương and many other villages were leveled, exposing the internal landscape, “shamefully” in native perception, to the entire outside world. A large number of Sơn-Dương houses were burnt down....

  8. Part II. The Revolution in the Village

    • CHAPTER 4 The Rise of Marxist Power
      (pp. 123-156)

      On September 2, 1945, to a tumultuous crowd of half a million Vietnamese in Hanoi as well as to the nation and the world at large, HồChí Minh declared the formation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam:

      “We hold truths that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

      This immortal statement is extracted from the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. Understood in the broader sense, this means: “All peoples on the earth are born equal;...

    • CHAPTER 5 The Revolution in the Village, 1954–1988
      (pp. 157-204)

      On June 30, 1987, the village of Sơn-Dương organized a formal ceremony to receive the Third-class Labor Medal from the national government. The village was commended for a wide variety of achievements, ranging from agricultural production and a rapid decline in birth rate to measures of economy in the life-cycle rituals. Invited to the ceremony were not only the incumbent high-ranking cadres from surrounding villages, the district, and the province, but also retired high-ranking cadres from Sơn-Dương and the oldest villager from each of the four hamlets to represent the rest of the population. In a departure from local tradition...

  9. Part III. Market Economy and Local Dynamics

    • CHAPTER 6 The Market Economy and Socioeconomic Differentiation
      (pp. 207-225)

      In 2006 the village of Sơn-Dương was more integrated into the Vietnamese market economy and the global capitalist system than at any point since the consolidation of power by the postcolonial Vietnamese state in 1954. This integration was partly facilitated by a better road and transport system. Living standards had significantly improved as a result of agricultural decollectivization and market economy participation, the greater vulnerabilities of the poor notwithstanding. The relatively egalitarian class system during the command-economy era had also become gradually restructured as a result.

      Two decades earlier, a Sơn-Dương villager wishing to get to Hanoi had to ride...

    • CHAPTER 7 The Intensification of Social and Ritual Life
      (pp. 226-245)

      With the contraction of economic space under state control and increasing private wealth, villagers in Sơn-Dương intensified their ritual activities and relations in their social networks, both through gift exchanges and through the establishment of numerous voluntary associations. Social relations intensified mainly among the villagers of Sơn-Dương, in parallel with the considerable persistence of village endogamy, despite the stronger integration of Sơn-Dương into the national economy and the global capitalist system. The male-oriented, and class-structured model of Vietnamese society also gradually reasserted itself and strengthened both within the kinship domain and beyond.

      Of the 382 married couples in the 283...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Restructuring of Local Governance
      (pp. 246-260)

      In July 1998, revisiting Sơn-Dương commune for the first time in seven years, I was startled by the profound crisis that had arisen in the relationship between the local population and the commune administration. As a reflection of its magnitude, from 1993 to 1998, under strong local social pressure, many Communist Party secretaries and presidents of the People’s Committee had quickly succeeded one another. Tensions reached a boiling point during my visit: local families were reportedly refusing to pay not only their irrigation fees but also commune levies. These arrears had totaled US $18,000 for half a year. As a...

    • CHAPTER 9 Theoretical Reflections
      (pp. 261-278)

      The past century has witnessed violent turns in the encounter between capitalist imperialism and the social formations of agrarian societies at the periphery of the capitalist world system. The emerging social formations at the periphery, which are built on the basis of noncapitalist principles in many cases, have also been fundamentally restructured in the past half a century. In many respects the dynamics of this encounter and subsequent restructuring are epitomized in the Vietnamese revolution. The Vietnamese transformation has influenced important theoretical models embedded in the major traditions of contemporary Western social theory represented by John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx,...

  10. Appendix 1: Regulations on Cultured Life in Hamlet 5 of Sơn-Dương, 2003
    (pp. 279-285)
  11. Appendix 2: Chronology
    (pp. 286-289)
  12. Appendix 3: Significant People in Sơn-Dương Village and Anticolonial History
    (pp. 290-292)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 293-308)
  14. References
    (pp. 309-320)
  15. Index
    (pp. 321-334)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 335-338)