Abstract: Today’s Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a city of contrasts.
New luxury housing developments rise from the rubble of demolished
neighborhoods. Emergent forms of property rights, known in Vietnam as
“land-use rights,” have produced both new real estate opportunities and unprecedented
rates of dispossession. This talk, based on research informing his recent
book, Luxury and Rubble: Civility and Dispossession in the New Saigon,
will focus on two cases. Trac- ing the tensions embodied in two sites, he shows
how the politics of civility and rights are often entangled with dispossession. In
the process, a central paradox emerges: on the one hand, the logic of property
rights emboldens residents to stand up for their rights in the face of dispossession;
on the other hand, this very same logic of property rights fuels the real
estate boom that currently drives mass-dispossession.
Dr. Erik Harms is a Professor from Yale University. He is a social-cultural
an anthropologist specializing in Southeast Asia and Vietnam. His ethnographic
research in Vietnam has focused on the social and cultural effects of rapid urbanization
on the fringes of Saigon, today’s Ho Chi Minh City. While grounded ethnographically
in Vietnam, his research and teaching seek at all turns to connect
with larger world-historic processes, unraveling the interaction between culture
and politics, and the ways in which everyday acts are informed.