Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Emmanuel PANNIER (Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) (PALOC - Paris))
Almost all development projects in Vietnam's "ethnic minority" villages are characterized by very little knowledge about actual local realities. This is due to an overreliance on short surveys with inappropriate tools, standardized questionnaires, RRA and RPA (Olivier de Sardan 1995). Typically, local development strategies and their intervention methods are defined a priori by the constraints of the donors, Vietnamese Governmental organizations and non-governmental organization according to a top-down approach. Thus, while some positive results are achieved, due to a lack of ethnographic knowledge about target populations, many projects create new and unanticipated social, economic and political problems. To avoid these classic problems associated with local development, a team of Franco-Vietnamese anthropologists have designed an experimental project to test their specialized ethno-tourism model. Using information gathered during three-years of ethnographic surveys, more than five-years of cooperation and exchange to build networks of communication with the local population and civil authorities (from the commune, district and province), this team focuses on economic development in the Tày ethnic community (southeastern Lao Cai province, Northern Vietnam). Though small in scale (6 households), this paper aims to show that development can be achieved if methods suitable to the realities of the "beneficiaries” are utilized. However, to achieve positive outcomes, researcher must learn from locals how their social, economic, and political systems work. This project demonstrates that for ethno-tourism to succeed in this Vietnamese context, the role of anthropologists, not only as advisors, but also as true mediators between populations and developers is truly essential.