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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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Inside and Outside

Inside and Outside

Sociofiscal Relationships and the Risks of Doing Business

(p.97) 4 Inside and Outside
Essential Trade

Ann Marie Leshkowich

University of Hawai'i Press

As competition intensified in Vietnam’s marketplaces, social relationships helped Bến Thành traders acquire capital, merchandise, and information in a volatile commercial environment. Through ongoing exchanges, traders turned erstwhile outsiders into social insiders tied by mutual obligation. Although these sociofiscal relationships resemble Chinese guanxi networks, they reveal the dilemmas posed by the reconfiguration of public and private under Đổi mới. Because such relationships also displayed tình cảm (sentiment), a relational ethos associated with normative femininity, they played a key role in traders’ gendered subject formation as proper women. That these networks extended around the globe suggests a cosmopolitan sophistication that belies essentializing claims about both the scale of petty trade and the supposed Asian “tradition” of conducting business through personalistic relationships.

Keywords:   sociofiscal relationships, guanxi, tình cảm, inside/outside, public/private, cosmopolitanism, subjectivity, gender

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