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Enclosing the Highlands: Socialist, Capitalist and Protestant Conversions of Vietnam's Central Highlanders

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Salemink, Oscar
Conference: Politics of the Commons: Articulating Development and Strengthening Local Practices
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Conf. Date: July 11-14, 2003
Date: 2003
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1787
Sector: Social Organization
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
ritual and religion
social change
land tenure and use
property rights
Abstract: "In this essay I shall argue that the situation in Vietnam is indeed more complex, because the patterns of governmentality, resistance and conversion tend to be transnational rather than uniquely Vietnamese. Both capitalism and Communism tend to impose a particular moral order on people with a radically different ethic, and whose bodies and lands are integrated into national and transnational spaces. In order to understand the attraction of Protestantism I shall conceptualize capitalism and Communism as religious phenomena comparable to Christianity in terms of methods, faith and visions of salvation, and indeed competing with Christianity. It is nothing new to analyze capitalism and communism in terms of religion. It is, however, not common to analyze their systems of discipline and surveillance in terms of conversion. Nor is it usual to qualify these civil religions as fundamentalist, if they impose their moral order with an irresistible force and a totalizing discourse leaving hardly any space for autonomous action or thinking, even in the most private domains of life. In other words, whereas such processes of national integration and internal colonization tend to be described in terms of appropriation of bodies and resources, I like to turn our attention to the colonization of minds that attends such processes."

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