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Flexible Science: An Anthropology of Scientists, Society and Nature in Vietnam
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Eren Zink explores the conditions of doing science in Vietnam. The scientists included in this study were engaged in local and international efforts to conserve nature, establish the fact of climate change, and carry out scientific research in Vietnam. In most instances they had received some of their higher education outside of Vietnam, and later returned to positions within Vietnamese government ministries, universities, research institutes or (to a lesser extent) nongovernmental organizations.

Paying close attention to cultural and historical influences, the thesis reveals a politics of science whereby actors deftly navigate intricate webs of social and political networks. Partnerships amongst local and foreign actors become possible as a result of the ‘slippery spaces’ where misunderstandings are carefully cultivated and maintained. And, in combination with increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and international development aid, these actor-networks support the arrival of climate change in Vietnam.

Nevertheless, Vietnamese scientists are much more than intermediaries between local and foreign interests. Where the Red River meets the sea, scientists compete with national plans for aquaculture expansion in an effort to conserve an idea of nature that has roots in the rural villages of their remembered past. Meanwhile, in their own research institutions there are struggles over both the purpose of doing science, and the authority to practice it. With different degrees of success, the Vietnamese scientists studied here use the resources at hand to realize personal and professional ambitions, as well as to contribute to the (re)production of Vietnamese society.

The study is based upon eleven months of anthropological fieldwork that took place in Vietnam during 2007 – 2009. Study sites included Vietnamese research institutions, universities, ministries, embassies, and non-governmental organizations, as well as shrimp ponds and national parks in the coastal zone.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Institution of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University , 2011. , 253 p.
Keyword [en]
actor-network theory, climate change, economic anthropology, environmental conservation, higher education, international development, science, science policy, Vietnam
National Category
Ethnology Social Anthropology
Research subject
Cultural Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-156753OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-156753DiVA: diva2:433409
Public defence
2011-09-23, Geijersalen, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2011-09-02 Created: 2011-08-09 Last updated: 2011-09-02Bibliographically approved

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