They Said We’re Poor, But They Gave Me Nothing: Poverty and Welfare in Vietnam.

water and village

Assistant Professor Martha Lincoln speaks at California State University, Fullerton

Oct. 5, 2017

During Vietnam's socialist period, poverty was a widely shared condition, readily attributable to  abuses committed by foreign powers. In the present day, despite great strides in national poverty reduction, some populations remain economically precarious. This talk will address the shifting statistical and politico-moral significance of poverty in post-reform Vietnam. I argue that market transition has created a form of biopower (Foucault 2009) in which the state’s administrative control over the population operates in conjunction with the exigencies of the market economy. Accordingly, the poor -- who were once imagined as congruent with the nation -- are now publicly constructed as abject or deviant. Further, as ethnographic case studies from poor communities suggest, the state’s partial withdrawal from social protection compels the pursuit of survival strategies that lack even the hope of a more secure future.