Interdisciplinary Lunchtime Seminar

Wonks, Tree Huggers, and Zombies: The Development and Limits of Vietnam's Incipient Public Sphere

Asia/Hong_KongWonks, Tree Huggers, and Zombies: The Development and Limits of Vietnam’s Incipient Public Sphere
    Asia/Hong_KongWonks, Tree Huggers, and Zombies: The Development and Limits of Vietnam’s Incipient Public Sphere
      Overview

      Title:

      Wonks, Tree Huggers, and Zombies: The Development and Limits of Vietnam's Incipient Public Sphere

      Speaker:

      Dr. Jonathan London (Assistant Professor, Department of Asian and International Studies, City University of Hong Kong)

      Date:

      March 15, 2016

      Time:

      12:00 nn – 1:00 pm

      Venue:

      Room 201, 2/F, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong (Map)

      Language:

      English

      Enquiry:

      (Tel) (852) 3917-5772
      (Email) ihss@hku.hk

      Abstract

      In recent years Vietnam has developed a political public sphere. The effects have been tangible. While Vietnam’s formal political institutions remain solidly Leninist, its real politics are animated by an increasingly pluralistic and, in respects, democratic, political culture. The relation between Vietnam’s incipient political public sphere and the country’s state apparatus are decidedly blurry. Segments of the state tasked with defending ‘Party security’ and ideological purity regard ‘undisciplined’ political speech and illegal assembly as national security threats, whereas scores of cadres and Party members from other parts of the state are, along with increasing numbers of citizens outside the state, active participants in public discussions about the state. The most striking manifestations of this political public sphere appear online, and are a focus of this paper. Though the expansion and pluralization of political expression has not been limited to the virtual sphere. Nor does manifest only in the politics of oppositional protest. Comparatively, what has occurred in Vietnam might not appear especially noteworthy, as the expansion of political space (especially online) has parallels in other authoritarian polities. Yet this does not negate its significance in the Vietnamese context, where independent political expression of any kind was only recently broadly absent.

      Poster