Patrick Slack

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

McGill U.

Grant number

Gr. 10349

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Slack, Patrick (McGill U.) "Negotiated Frontier Territorialities and Agencies: A Longitudinal Study Comparing Two Ethnic Minority Rural Districts in Northern Vietnam."

This archival and ethnographic study will be the first to explore how borderland ethnic minority farmers in upland northern Vietnam have navigated semi-subsistence livelihoods amidst territorialization schemes over the past century (catalyzed by French Colonial authorities consolidating power and border making from 1897-1924). Since independence (1954), Vietnamese governing regimes have attempted to incorporate ethnic minority farmers, natural resources, and commodities at the cultural, economic, and geographic margins into centralized state-making projects. This study will investigate two intensive periods of territorialization in the country’s northern borderlands (1897-1924 and 1954-present), embedded with political, economic, and environmental objectives for integrating these borderlands and the livelihoods of those residing there. While facing tremendous pressure to embrace unilateral frontier interventions, ethnic minority Yao, Hmong, and Hani farmers have used prudent agency, selectively engaging with schemes that seem helpful, while rejecting or modifying others they deem precarious. Drawing on colonial and state archives, plus long-term ethnography, this longitudinal study will examine how borderland ethnic minority famers have adapted, adopted, or resisted semi-subsistence livelihoods in two neighboring districts, in two neighboring provinces. This comparison will assess diverging impacts of nested jurisdictional policies amidst numerous political, economic, and environmental upheavals, plus state actors and agencies implementing frontier interventions.