In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Vietnamese dynasties attempted to extend their reach to Vietnam’s northern uplands—one of the most important regions in the integration of the state. This study examines local governance in the northern uplands during the early Nguyễn period, through an analysis of official documents—particularly the report submitted by the governor-general of the northern provinces (tổng trấn Bắc Thành) in the tenth month of the tenth year of Gia Long (1811). During the eighteenth century, the Lê Dynasty (r. 1428–1527, 1533–1789) depended on local chieftains to administer tax collection and military service in each commune of the northern uplands. After occupying northern Vietnam, the Nguyễn Dynasty found it difficult to gather information on the local chieftains in the northern uplands. It was unable to allocate sufficient resources and manpower to gather this information. In addition, regional officials (such as the governor-general of the northern provinces) did not provide this information to the Nguyễn court, and only some local chieftains cooperated with the Nguyễn Dynasty. Until 1810, the number of chieftains who took on the responsibility of tax collection, drafting soldiers in each commune, and gathering information on the northern uplands—thus cooperating with the Nguyễn Dynasty’s local system of governance—was smaller than the number during the Lê Dynasty. In 1810 the Nguyễn court compiled a list of local chieftains in the northern uplands; this list included the chieftains’ names, the communes where they were registered, and the communes where they collected taxes and drafted soldiers. This indicates that the Nguyễn court attempted to govern the upland provinces by consolidating information on the chieftains. However, it was still difficult for the Nguyễn court to gain full information on the local chieftains since the governor-general of the northern provinces and provincial officials appointed them without reporting to the court. This continued until the Minh Mạng emperor’s (r. 1820–41) well-known reforms, including abolishing the post of governor-general of the northern provinces and the hereditary status of local chieftains. Thus, through examining the transitioning local governance in the northern uplands, this study clarifies the Nguyễn Dynasty’s difficulty in integrating the state during its early years.
The “Red Shirt” pro-Thaksin movement, which organized mass demonstrations in Bangkok in 2009 and 2010, reportedly consisted mainly of farmers from the North and Northeast (Isan) regions. However, within the Isan region, (1) in some areas, few people supported the Red Shirts; (2) within areas that had strong Red Shirt support, some villages were indifferent or negative toward the Red Shirts; and (3) within villages that strongly supported the Red Shirts, there were some villagers who did not support them.
In this article I examine these diversities in Red Shirt support in relation to the transformation of local people’s livelihood and surrounding ecological conditions. I do this by means of case studies in two contrastive areas that support the Red Shirts but share similar characteristics in livelihood and other sociocultural aspects, including high dependence on a market economy: TM village and the surrounding area in Nam Khun District, and NK village and the surrounding area in Si Muang Mai District, Ubon Ratchathani Province.
Core supporters of the Red Shirt movement were motivated not by personal benefits but by the collective benefits for “poor Isan peasants” thanks to various policies of the Thaksin and pro-Thaksin administrations. They expressed a need for a democratic government so that their requests for government support could be fairly considered. On the other hand, in areas where natural resources were still abundant, and in case necessary a self-sufficient mode of life was possible, local people tended to keep their distance from factional politics, including the Red Shirts. They did not depend on government support for leading their lives. Instead, they held the idea of living with what they had.
The Mindanao settlement of the early twentieth century was dogged by an unresolved issue: the number of Christians lured there by a state-sponsored resettlement program, which undermined privately led migration on public lands. This paper, on the development of the Homeseekers Program (1918–39), explores how the formation of a Christian Filipino settler colony in Cotabato, Mindanao, was intertwined with its self-governing capacity, demonstrated by settlers and the local government. Settler colonialism is the research framework for situating this overlooked element within the colonial pattern stemming from a fluid, multifaceted political situation. During the early American colonial period, Christians moved to Mindanao and built homes for themselves. Among them were agriculturists and educated young professionals who worked as teachers and government officials. Their arrival, essential for establishing colonial governance through public order, infrastructure building, and public health and education systems, contributed greatly to creating a settler colonial space independent from the central government and detrimental to indigenous people. Given the disorganized nature of the settlement process, however, land grabbing and squatting on public lands were common in the 1930s. This analysis demonstrates that the Christian settler colony materialized as a logical outcome of Filipino settler colonialism, leading to subtle, solid colonial governance.
This article examines domestic and international critiques of the literature of the Vietnamese-language writer Khái Hưng, who was active from the French colonial period to the eve of the Indochina War. It then explores changes and continuities in Vietnamese literary criticism in light of changes in the nation’s cultural policies.
Khái Hưng was one of seven members and the most prolific writer of the Self-Reliant Literary Group, founded in 1933 in Hanoi. In 1941 he was arrested by the French for anticolonial activities. Following World War II, he supported the Vietnamese Nationalist Party as an editor of the Party’s newspapers. In 1946 he was captured by the Communist-led Việt Minh, and in 1947 he was executed. On the grounds that he was involved in the Party against the Việt Minh and was purged by the Việt Minh, few serious studies have been conducted on Khái Hưng despite his stature as a leading writer in the 1930s and 1940s. Although former South Vietnamese scholars recognized the importance of Khái Hưng’s late works, they had to start by collecting these materials, which had been scattered due to national division and war; also, South Vietnamese students of literature tended to prefer the study of foreign literature to domestic literature. After the fall of the former South Vietnam, those who fled abroad as refugees had to start earning a living from scratch. Therefore, few of them studied literature at academic institutions, and little serious research was conducted on Khái Hưng, including his activities in the latter years of his life. However, as Đỗ Lai Thúy points out, avoiding such “sensitive issues” in Vietnam makes it difficult to truly understand the country.
This paper carefully traces the treatment of the literature created by Khái Hưng, who was recognized as a “sensitive issue.” At the same time, it attempts to dismantle the formula that was constructed with the rise of social realism: romanticism=bourgeoisie=decadence=reaction, which has become a simplified and somewhat established theory in Vietnamese literary history since Khái Hưng’s death. Focusing on a specific writer reveals the complex ways in which the cultural policies of a war-torn nation were operationalized at the civilian level.