Fragments of the Present
Searching for modernity in Vietnam's South
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In one of the first in-depth accounts of a society long rendered virtually inaccessible by war and political closure, Philip Taylor explores the ways in which modernity has been adapted as an indigenous identity in Vietnam and traces the volatile path of such self-identification.
The post-war government's policies towards southern Vietnam's popular music and international cultural exchange altered from initial rejection to qualified embrace. However, the state policies drew criticism from many locals with different ideas about their own identity as 'modern', as they were concerned about the impacts of economic liberalisation and political authoritarianism. Taylor pays particular attention to the many dimensions of Vietnamese music as a rich response to profound historical and social upheavals, the policies which saw much popular music being banned on the grounds that it was not authentically 'modern', and the ways Vietnamese people imagined and talk about their identity and history through the reference point of music.
A case study of the diversity of ways in which social, political and economic change is interpreted locally, Fragments of the Present is an important guide to the challenges to global integration faced by the world's remaining Communist states.
Philip Taylor researched this book while undertaking doctoral studies in anthropology at the Australian National University. He has spent more than two years in southern Vietnam where he undertook additional studies on pilgrimage, popular religion, and gender.
Table of Contents
1 Neo-colonialism as poison
2 Renunciations of socialism
3 Indigenising modernity in Nam Bo
4 Reinventing modernity as threat
5 Civilisation in the orchard
Philip Taylor worked for two years in Vietnam's Mekong delta, researching this book between 1992 and 1995. He has eight years teaching experience in anthropology, Asian studies and languages and he has designed and developed a post-graduate teaching program in Pacific and Asian studies. He is currently a Visiting Fellow in the Division of Pacific and Asian History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University.