Southeast Asia and the Civil Society Gaze : Scoping a Contested Concept in Cambodia and Vietnam book cover
1st Edition

Southeast Asia and the Civil Society Gaze
Scoping a Contested Concept in Cambodia and Vietnam

ISBN 9781138579217
Published October 12, 2017 by Routledge
312 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

As developing countries with recent histories of isolation and extreme poverty, followed by restoration and reform, both Cambodia and Vietnam have seen new opportunities and demands for non-state actors to engage in and manage the effects of rapid socio-economic transformation.

This book examines how in both countries, civil society actors and the state manage their relationship to one another in an environment that is continuously shaped and (re)constructed by changing legislation, collaboration and negotiation, advocacy and protest, and social control. Further, it explores the countries’ divergent experiences whilst also uncovering the underlying basis and drivers of civil society activity that are shared by Cambodia and Vietnam. Crucially, this book engages with the contested nature of civil society and how it is socially constructed through research and development activities, by looking at contemporary discourses and manifestations of civil society in the two countries, including national and community-level organisations, associations, and networks that operate in a variety of sectors, such as gender, the environment and health.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork conducted in Cambodia and Vietnam, this book will be of huge interest to students and scholars of Southeast Asian studies, Southeast Asian politics, development studies and civil society.

Table of Contents

1.Grasping discourses, researching practices: Civil society in Vietnam and Cambodia Part I: Framing the Contemporary Civil Society in Cambodia and Vietnam 2. In Search of a Civil Society: Re-negotiating State-Society Relations in Cambodia 3. Bringing past models into the present: Identifying civil society in contemporary Vietnam Part II: Advocacy and Political Space 4. Civil society networks in Cambodia and Vietnam – A comparative analysis 5 Civil Society and Political Culture in Vietnam 6. Enclosing women’s rights in a kitchen cabinet? Interactions between the Vietnam Women’s Union, civil society and the state on gender equality 7. Civil society engagement in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Cambodia 8. Changing Gendered boundaries in rural Cambodia 9. Mobilising Against Hydropower Projects: Multi-scale Dimensions of Civil Society Action in a Transboundary Setting Part III: Traces and Tendencies 10. Tracing the Discourses on Civil Society in Vietnam – A Narrative from Within 11. NGOs and the Illusion of a Cambodian Civil Society 12. Proto Civil Society: Space, Pagodas and the Socio-religious Realm in Rural Cambodia 13. Voluntary or State-Driven? Community-based Organizations in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam 14. Competitive Discourses in Civil Society:  Pluralism in Cambodia’s Agricultural Development Platform 15. Conclusion: The Civil Society Gaze

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Gabi Waibel, Judith Ehlert and Hart N. Feuer are all senior researchers at the Centre for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn, Germany.


Southeast Asia and the Civil Society Gaze is highly recommended for development practitioners and social activists seeking to critically reflect on their work, and for anyone interested in intercultural studies, political science, discourse analysis and Southeast Asian sociology.  - Paul-David Lutz, Australia