Human Trafficking in Colonial Vietnam: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Human Trafficking in Colonial Vietnam

1st Edition

By Micheline Lessard


152 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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Examining the widespread phenomenon of human trafficking in Vietnam during the period of French colonial rule, this book focuses on the practice of kidnapping or stealing Vietnamese women and children for sale in Chinese markets from the 1870s through to the 1940s.

The book brings to light the fact that human trafficking between Vietnam and China existed prior to more contemporary instances of this trade. It provides information as to the perpetrators, the nature, and the scope of this illicit commerce and its impact on the lives of its victims, who were mainly domestic servants, concubines or prostitutes. The book also examines the ways in which French colonial actors (missionaries, administrators, military officers, adventurers and observers, and consuls) reported, described, and reacted to it, and goes on to analyse the impact of human trafficking on the concept of French ‘prestige’ and on the French colonial project in Vietnam.

Human trafficking in colonial Vietnam illustrates the tensions and the conflicts not only between the French and the Vietnamese, but also between the Vietnamese and the Chinese, as well as between the colons and the French colonial administration, and between the colonial and metropolitan governments. The book will be of interest to students and scholars of Southeast Asian History, Colonial History and Criminology.


"Human Trafficking in Colonial Vietnam is a thorough investigation into the political, diplomatic, and economic context in which the market for women and girls flourished during the colonial period. With its incredible detail drawn from an array of sources – some known to historians and many previously undiscovered – Lessard proves that human trafficking is not a modern concept in Vietnam and indeed has a long history in Indochina. This book will prove essential for the study of human trafficking – both academic and applied. It will be useful for both undergraduate and graduate courses in Asian history, French history, and gender studies. It should be a mandatory read for aid workers who focus on trafficking in Vietnam and China." - Christina Firpo, CalPoly University, International Institute for Asian Studies Newsletter

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction 1."That Which Fills our Heart with Bitterness": Missionaries and the Purchase of Vietnamese Women and Children 2. "The Principal Article of Trade": Military Accounts of Human Trafficking in Tonkin during the Pacification Campaigns and Beyond 3. "This Odious Traffic in Annamite Children": French Consuls and the Victims of Human Trafficking 4."These Kidnappings are Injurious to our Prestige": The French Colonial Administration and its Inability to Stem the Tide of Human Trafficking in Indochina 5. Conclusion 6. Bibliography

About the Author

Micheline Lessard is Associate Professor of Southeast Asian History at the University of Ottawa, Canada.

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary Southeast Asia Series

The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars on all aspects of Southeast Asia.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General