Southeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Socialism’s Underworld: Crime and Gold

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Wilson B, Mezzanine Level

“Socialism’s Underworld: Crime and Gold” examines the insecurity of Communist Vietnam through Nguyễn Trí's literary works. The author depicts the precarious lives of South Vietnamese war veterans who served time in labor camps and returned to a society and government that refused to acknowledge them. Nguyễn Trí’s characters, subsequently, had little choice but to turn to an underworld of gangsters, lawlessness, and violence to survive. This paper focuses on Nguyễn’s narratives about the underground economy of gold-mining.  I argue that such economic zones—once they were made official—were precursors to Vietnam’s current market socialism. That is, Vietnam’s disciplining and marginalization of its civil war enemies have expanded to national neoliberal policies.

Ben V. Tran

Vanderbilt University, Tennessee

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