Charles H. P. Zuckerman
Grant TypeHunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Institutional AffiliationSydney, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10387
Approve DateOctober 11, 2022
Project TitleZuckerman, Charles (Sydney, U. of) "What the Action Is: Gambling and Moral Categories in Late-Socialist Laos"
What the Action Is: Gambling and moral categories in late-socialist Laos studies gambling practices to show how people in Laos experience and resolve moral dilemmas lingering from the nation’s revolution. As such, it offers a vivid portrait of the on-the-ground workings of late-socialism in Asia—where nations such as Laos, Vietnam, and China have maintained an ethical and political commitment to socialist categories even as they have adopted capitalistic policies. The book argues that gambling provides a crystalline form of the late-socialist condition, which people in Luang Prabang experiment with as they rethink the relation between morality and economy. With close attention to the details of bodily behavior and language, the book shows that gamblers do this by putting the games they play into emergent, moral economic categories––’gambling for beer’ and ‘gambling for money.’ To investigate these categories, and their role in face-to-face interaction, the book also develops a new way to study named social categories generally, emphasizing that it is the heterogeneity of ‘category work’ that explains why such categories are both so important to the people that use them and so difficult to analyze.