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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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Wandering Ghosts of Market Socialism

Wandering Ghosts of Market Socialism

Governmentality and Memory in the Marketplace

(p.127) 5 Wandering Ghosts of Market Socialism
Essential Trade

Ann Marie Leshkowich

University of Hawai'i Press

One Bến Thành trader described herself as plagued by wandering ghosts whom she had to appease with offerings. Although the postwar Vietnamese landscape teems with angry spirits who died violently without descendants to honor them, the trader’s ghosts were in fact living humans: market cadres who demanded that traders pay a fee for use rights to their stalls. The controversy that resulted reveals dilemmas of governmentality, namely how the transition to market socialism left local officials bereft of resources, thus igniting tensions within various levels of the Vietnamese government and creating conflict between local officials and entrepreneurs. That ghosts are also a well-understood reference to war points to the ongoing, daily processes of memory work and recombinant history (Schwenkel 2009) that shaped what Bến Thành traders could remember and forget about the past and how its legacies affected their present experiences and selves.

Keywords:   ghosts, market socialism, governmentality, war, recombinant history, cadres, memory work

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