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Vietnamese is rich in proverbs. Nguyễn Thi Nga, my first Vietnamese language instructor, knew them all, or so it seemed to me. During our lessons together she had me repeat her favorite ones at a rapid pace to improve my pronunciation and then explicate them as a way to correct my grammar and to assess my comprehension. I am embarrassed to admit how few of them I can still recall today. Of the ones I can, this proverb merits inclusion here: “If you want to gather a lot of knowledge, act as if you are ignorant.” In my case it was rarely an act. I could not have completed my field and archival research without the assistance of many people who knew far more about socialist Vietnam than I did. I would first like to thank the Center for Human Settlements at the University of British Columbia, which oversaw the Localized Poverty Reduction in Vietnam (LPRV) project. Key project personnel made it possible for me to begin my research when previously approved options were inexplicably foreclosed. The National Institute of Ethnology and the National Center for the Social Sciences and Humanities (now the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences) provided significant logistical support and constructive feedback on my research. I am also grateful to staff members at the following institutions who helped me access source material held at the National Archives Center No. 3, the National Library, the National Social Sciences and Humanities Library, the Center for Scientific Information on Labor and Social Affairs, and the Vietnam Development Information Center. I would like to extend special thanks to Tuấn, Vỹ, Lam Giang, Vân, and Sylvaine for their friendship. I benefited greatly from their knowledge of the Acknowledgments xv “NGO world” and their insights into the dynamics shaping project implementation . Finally, I garnered a wealth of information during my countless conversations with Vietnamese of different backgrounds that I met in the greater Red River Delta, but especially the low-level cadres who I feature in the pages that follow. Many of these cadres were extremely generous with their time and forthcoming with their opinions, even when the conversation strayed from topics I had official permission to speak with them about. For reasons of space and privacy, I thank them collectively here. My arguments reflect the influence many others have had on how I think. First and foremost, I am grateful to the members of my dissertation committee (Ann Stoler, Fernando Coronil, Katherine Verdery, and John Whitmore), who granted me the freedom to pursue this sprawling and complicated project . Their incisive questions continually forced me to rethink the ones I was asking of my field data and archival sources. My book is much better for it. Many others provided much camaraderie and intellectual engagement while “in the field.” They include Christina Schwenkel, Kate Jellema, Seth Harter, Joe and Dai Peters, Ben Kerkvliet, Judith Henchy, Andrew Smith, Diane Fox, Lisa Mogul, Jennifer Paine, and Jennifer Foley. So, too, did my colleagues at the University of Michigan and Emory University (Bruce Knauft, Joanna Davidson, and Chris Krupa) where I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Critical International Studies (ICIS). I also thank the following individuals who have provided further valuable feedback on different aspects of my project (whether they knew it or not) since then: Stuart Kirsch, HueTam Ho Tai, Peter Zinoman, Ben Kerkvliet, Anne Marie Leshkowich, David Biggs, Christian Lentz, Oscar Salemink, Michael DiGregorio, Bradley Davis, Ngô Vĩnh Long, Đặng Đình Trung, Tuong Vu, Nguyễn Văn Huy, Vũ Tuấn Anh, Thủy Do, and Kiran Asher. I am additionally grateful for the three anonymous readers; their close reading of the manuscript greatly improved it, as well as saving me from making too many embarrassing errors of fact and emphasis. All errors that remain are mine. Finally, I want to express my sincere thanks to Katherine Bowie and Gwen Walker. Their ongoing feedback pushed me to make my arguments more legible and hence more compelling and relevant to a wider audience. I benefited from funding from several sources. A Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship (#PO22A990052) and a WennerGrenFoundationforAnthropologicalResearchFellowship (#6509)supported the initial stages of my research during 2000–2002. Internal funding from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in the form of a Rackham/Sweetland xvi Acknowledgments Summer Dissertation Writing Institute Award and a Václav Havel Doctoral Dissertation Research Award, made it possible to complete my dissertation in a timely fashion. Subsequent support...


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