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Essential TradeVietnamese Women in a Changing Marketplace$
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Ann Marie Leshkowich

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824839901

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824839901.001.0001

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Placing Bến Thành Market

Placing Bến Thành Market

The Naturalization of Space and Commerce

(p.30) 1 Placing Bến Thành Market
Essential Trade

Ann Marie Leshkowich

University of Hawai'i Press

In the early twentieth century, French colonial planners designed Bến Thành market as a modern, hygienic structure that would have a civilizing effect on Vietnamese commerce. Not long after the “new Saigon market” opened in 1914, newspaper articles bemoaned that it had been overtaken by unruly, unrepentant nativeness. How did a symbol of modernity so quickly become iconic of the traditional Vietnamese chợ (marketplace) and hence essentialized as the natural home for a form of petty trade that is typically dismissed as backward? Tracing the processes of placemaking surrounding the market’s early history reveals how colonial planners’ state spatializing ambitions succumbed to the daily dynamics of the market as taskscape (Ingold 1993) in which place and people interacted to naturalize Bến Thành as a traditional chợ.

Keywords:   French colonialism, urban planning, state spatialization, taskscape, placemaking, essentialism

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