Dreaming of Money in Ho Chi Minh City
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Washington Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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Collecting material and writing this book has put me in the debt of numerous people, from Ho Chi Minh City to New York, New Orleans, and Houston. I would first like to thank those people who invited me into their homes, included me on their daily errands and trips outside the city, and taught me their streetwise ways. I am especially thankful for the goodwill and humor of...
A Note on Place Names
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A word on my choice of place names and how they are spelled is in order. People today often interchange Saigon and Ho Chi Minh City. The confusion over names is understandable. When I first purchased a ticket to Vietnam in 1996, the sales agent insisted that I couldn’t fly to Ho Chi Minh City, only to Saigon. The miscommunication arose because the international code for Tan...
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This book is about money. More specifically, it is about money in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest and most populous city. The city’s vibrant markets and alleyways teeming with homegrown businesses, its deepwater port and broad boulevards, and its ample restaurants and sidewalk vendors all signal the city’s rightful place as the country’s center of...
One. The Making of Vietnamese Money
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National currencies have been described as signaling the mutual constitution of the state and its markets as a single moving whole.1 These currencies have standardized economic value in a geopolitical space, reinforced the borders of national markets, and legitimated the role of their issuer, the territorial state. Still, we must be cautious when situating...
Two. Renovating Households
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Capitalist ideologies cast the household as a threshold separating the realm of the public from that of the domestic or the family.1 Money crosses this threshold, providing a bridge that integrates this institutional dualism into a coherent and stable whole.2 Renovation policies in the 1980s emphasized “household economies” (kinh tế gia đình) as a way...
Three. Dollars Are for Keeping
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One evening in Ho Chi Minh City, I showed Mr. Xuân a đồng note issued by the State Bank of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1958. Mr. Xuân had grown up in Hanoi, and I wondered if he remembered the ten-đồng note, the largest note in circulation in northern Vietnam until 1978, when the unified currency was introduced. At the time I...
Four. Summoning Spirits
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Remittances denominated in US dollars in southern Vietnam created a social infrastructure for families that were stretched out across vast geographical distances. These gifts in the guise of US dollar bills were also valued as signs of membership in a globalizing economy. Are there parallels that can then be drawn between the economies of remittances...
Five. The Qualities of Money
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Ordinary people in Ho Chi Minh City have vastly increased the available supply of money by using different currencies. But even while they transact with multiple currencies, their concerns over the quality of money have paradoxically restricted its circulation. This has led not to a unified concept of “money” but rather to a reinforced popular understanding...
Six. Dodging, or Street-Level Strategies for Personal Gain
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In 2007 red banners heralding the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization lined the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. Newly chartered banks redefined the city’s skyline. Billboards advertised new residential complexes yet to be built. And department store displays sparkled with high-end imported goods. How were ordinary people negotiating their own prospects...
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Vietnam’s admission to the World Trade Organization in 2007 came more than twenty years after the Vietnamese Communist Party launched Đổi Mới (Renovation). The following year, the threat of the collapse of global financial institutions triggered a crisis that originated not in Asia but in the heartland of capitalism, the United States. Unlike the collapse...
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Page Count: 205
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Critical dialogues in Southeast Asian studies
Series Editor Byline: Edited by Charles F. Keyes, Vicente L. Rafael, and Laurie J. Sears