Fishers, Monks and Cadres: Navigating State, Religion and the South China Sea in Central Vietnam

Hardback: $75.00
ISBN-13: 9788776942861
Published: September 2020

Additional Information

284 pages | 8 b&w illustrations, 5 maps
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  • About the Book
  • This remarkable and very timely ethnography explores how fishing communities living on the fringe of the South China Sea in central Vietnam interact with state and religious authorities as well as their farmer neighbours – even while handling new geopolitical challenges. The focus is mainly on marginal people and their navigation between competing forces over the decades of massive change since their incorporation into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1975. The sea, however, plays a major role in this study as does the location: a once-peripheral area now at the centre of a global struggle for sovereignty, influence and control in the South China Sea.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Edyta Roszko, Author

      Edyta Roszko is a social anthropologist and senior researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Norway. For over fifteenth years, she has undertaken ethnographic research on Chinese and Vietnamese fisheries and militia in the common maritime space of the South China Sea. Connectivity of fishers compelled her to historicize fishing communities and to work beyond the nation-state and area studies framework. Her newly awarded European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant project TransOcean at CMI expands her geographic field beyond Vietnam and China to include other global regions in Oceania and in West and East Africa.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • As geopolitical tensions rise in and around Vietnam’s Eastern Sea (known elsewhere as the South China Sea), too little is known about the richly variegated and complex social life along Vietnam’s coastline. This detailed and painstakingly researched ethnography from coastal central Vietnam places the disputes over oceanic sovereignty within a longer history of social life in this fascinating but curiously understudied part of Vietnam. Revealing how entangled Vietnamese economic and spiritual life is with the sea, we learn how ritual, religion, economy and politics all course through the heart of changing relations among state and society. Everyday actors navigate the categories of state, society and religion like they sail the seas with the stars; the categories are both fixed and in motion, guiding life at the interface of sea and shore, even as everyday actors constantly shift their position among them.
      —Erik Harms, Yale University
    • Roszko’s excellent analysis of state-society dynamics in contemporary Vietnam reflects her many years of living in, and studying, these communities. Her discoveries about personal, political and religious life are perceptive and fascinating. This book will be a significant contribution to studies of local political power in Vietnam and throws new light on the ways the state and communities have engaged with aspects of the disputes in the South China Sea.
      —Bill Hayton, author of The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Modern Asia