Riotinto – multi-scalar defeat, yaay!

This one is a welcome defeat for the mining corp…

See more on riot Tinto on this blog here:

(note, reposting this article is not meant to be an endorsement of TWQ – see here – but I am hugely appreciative of this paper and authors’s work)

Against Charity

I wrote my first book as a critique of charity work in Kolkata, India. I attempted a critique of western ‘charity’ workers helping those they saw as the ‘unfortunates’ in classic development colonial style – of the many ‘volunteers’ in Kolkata at the time, the majority worked for Mother Theresa but the ones I hung out with were at a clinic run by a long time medico Jack Praeger. Mostly I was attracted to this lot because they were not as pious as those who came for Missionary work, they drank and drugged their way around the banana pancake trail (backpacker tourism circuit) and ended up in Kolkata as a kind of default. Yet, it was an international charity, and about 95%, of them were from outside India, though with a few Indian doctors doing part time work. The organisation did help people, mostly street dwellers with injuries or leprosy sufferers who were not treated by hospitals because of poverty and stigma, and the limited capacity of the medical system in communist but undeveloped Bengal (undeveloped because the pro-capitalist national govt moved industry away from the then communist state). Ideally, the state would provide all social care, including organising social service programmes (that I would distinguish from charity). Westerners took pictures of themselves doing this charity work, and sent them home as postcards and so on, and increasingly the international support came and funded more westerners to come and do ‘the work’ of volunteering (it had become a stop on the tourist trail, even mentioned in travel guides). But this work was still what the state should do and increasingly it became clear that street people were in a way just a photogenic backdrop for the westerners self-promotion. Here, media imagery, including films, sold the exotic image of the poor of Kolkata to the West. Even feature films were made – for example City of Joy with Patrick Swayze – and endless documentaries about the anti-contraception, love them till it hurts, ‘wizened old saint’ Mother Theresa, who got high profile donations from famous westerners who made a show of being photographed with the poor of Kolkata. Ma T, as Christopher Hitchens put it, was interested in helping the poor die as Christians (in a majority Hindu state) while people like Ronald Reagan, and the Savings and Loans scandal millionaire who shall not be named, had their photos taken with the poor and promoted their ‘good deeds’. So, the issue of representation was huge, but even more, the reasons why these people did ‘charity’ work had to be discussed – in a larger frame, pictures of their giving was more of a gift for themselves, self-promotion of their goodness. Gift and counter-gift – cf Mauss, The Gift; Derrida, Given Time etc. They could just as easily have donated to the medical facilities of Bengal, or quietly worked for industrial contracts to promote the economy and medical facilities, hospital development and inclusive policies, but no, the communist state was not their cup of char. I would think we need a very strict distinction to be made between charity and social service work. I think the issue of representation of children and the poor is always political, that exoticism and exploitation in imagery is real, and that integrating support for the blind, the poor, children etc must be organised through structures like local govt, community and institutions etc. What is most questionable here is what happens when ‘foreigners’ take over and think they can ‘help’ but really they are promoting their own self-image and unexamined values. Only some of this will be relevant now, for sure, but I wanted to rethink my experience and confirm the need to not call everything charity – better organised forms social service work (red summer) seem radically different to what international charity often becomes. And yes, in media studies, the issue of how we represent ourselves and ‘the poor’ (photogenic poverty) is without doubt still a significant concern.

Oct 22 1965 Sydney arrests

The report on this 1965 anti-war protest is marginally better than most current press release churnalism, of course it favours the Police and the future PM McMahon (who eventually presides over troop withdrawal), but its easy enough to read between the lines and see this was the start. So, a welcome find. At this time a Gallop Survey showed more than 50% of Australians supported the Menzies Govt’s decision to send troops to Vietnam (in April 1965 – before that only military advisors [and probably special ops had been there – see ‘The Sullivans’]). The first anti-War teach-ins were held in July that year.

“60 arrested in Vietnam war protest (Canberra Times, 22 October 1965)
SYDNEY, Friday. — About 60 people were arrested tonight during a demonstration against the Vietnam war in which more than 400 people threw Sydney’s peak hour traffic into chaos with a sit-down across Pitt and King Streets.
At one stage, some people feared that the demonstration would develop into a riot. Scores of uniformed and special police were rushed to the area at the height of the demonstration. Police cordoned off one-way streets as 15 radio cars and five police vans surrounded the demonstrators. Earlier, police and demonstrators ex-changed blows in the streets while others were dragged to police vehicles. Some people, caught in the melee, rushed at demonstrators and wrenched their banners from them, tearing them to shreds. The New South Wales Police Commissioner, Mr Allan, called for an immediate report on the incident. It probably will be ready for him late tomorrow. Police said late tonight that most of those arrested had been released on bail. They would appear in Central Court on Monday.
Peak hour traffic. The few who had not been bailed out would spend the night in police cells at Central, Darlinghurst and Regent Street police stations and would appear in court tomorrow. The demonstration began about 5pm as hundreds of workers left their offices. Many had trouble getting through the placard-waving, chanting crowd, and some were still caught there as police reinforcements arrived. The Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr McMahon, was leaving the Commonwealth Bank Building on Martin Place, where parliamentary offices are located, as the demonstration began. The demonstration began peacefully, but soon home-going city traffic was banked up to Circular Quay in the north and the Central Railway Station in the southern end of the main city area. Demonstrators paraded along the footpaths. They carried posters, on which were written anti-American slogans, and photographs of Vietnamese civilian casualties. They marched into Pitt Street during the peak hour and were blocked by police. … Some demonstrators sat and lay across the roadways. They still held aloft their banners, and chanted slogans protesting the Vietnam war. Fights broke out, and extra police moved in. Many people were arrested by police and loaded into vans. They were taken to Central, Darlinghurst and Regent Street stations. Mr McMahon was reported to have spoken to a demonstrator who carried a banner which read: “How can the Vietnamese be aggressive in their own country?” There was a brief exchange and Mr McMahon appeared to offer to shake hands. The demonstrator walked away. Scores of leaflets were handed out by those taking part in the protest, but most were thrown away. After the area had been cleared the leaflets littered the ground. Demonstrators included members of the Waterside Workers’ Federation, the Communist Party, the ALP youth body, women’s organisations including the “Save Our Sons” Movement and university students. Militant members of trade unions, including some officials, were reported to be among those who chanted, “One, two, three, four, We don’t want war . . . Five, six, seven, eight, End the war, negotiate.” Some chanted, “American casualties, one in 20, Australian casualties, one in 10.”
Militant action. Most placards were directed against American policy in Vietnam, although some attacked the Australian Government’s policy on conscription. A spokesman for the demonstrators said tonight that the demonstration was the forerunner of more militant action by the group. Until now they had been prepared to hold peaceful demonstrations in the Sydney Domain and other areas, but in future similar demonstrations were likely, he said. While demonstrators paraded, about a dozen sup- porters of the Australian- Vietnamese policy waved American and Australian flags as a counter protest.”

“Saigon’s Penalscape: Interpreting Colonial Prisons in Vietnam” – first 50 Pdfs free

Your article, Saigon’s penalscape: interpreting colonial prisons in Vietnam, with Sophie Fuggle, is now published in Inter-Asia Cultural StudiesVolume 23 Issue 3

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Netaji aggregator post

I do not want to attract new madness, the old madness does well enough. Here, a summary of various items of fun fact* where *I use the term in the sense of fake news facts*:

Much respect to Netaji, I do of course wish (any of) this was true.

However, some years ago, on the trail of Subhas’s house here in HCMC, which we found, which still exists, though in a dilapidated state, someone was in touch and linked to a number of photographs of an Indian looking gentleman who is pictured at a Chinese pro Vietnam ceremony (can be discounted, read the ‘mobile phone photo story abdout ‘Evidence shows’ – link below) and a picture of the delegation to Paris a few years later allegedly as a member of the talks, with *confirmation* by the famous Madame Binh – head negotiator. Well, most likely not, even if the person does seem to have the correct features, but all other accounts suggest a plane crash. Though Taiwan airport logs no such crash – during a war, go figure – thus pouring aviation fuel on the rumour mill.

Me, personally, I am sure Subhas will return in the next few weeks and reveal that it is true he has been trading Cocaine in Vietnam, then living in China before walking across Tibet with Vikram Seth. Since then he has been living all this time as a sadhu in Varanasi and other parts of U.P., perhaps. Ha!

More likely is the French story that he died in Prison – the notorious Police Bot Catinat (lock up mentioned in Grahame Green’s Quiet American book) is not far from his house, and its the more likely tale really.

Here are the links:

Then, here are a few of the even more fun factoidifications of the endless rabbit hole that is Netaji studies:

Alive in Vietnam:

Dead in Vietnam:

Netaji in China

The Taiwan aircrash never happened:

and perhaps the best yet, also well documented :

Indeed, probably worth citing the entire post as, well, surely we can only wish this were all true, what a hero (somewhat unfortunately its only in The Wire, ah well):

“He lived incognito to perform some covert activities in Asian countries. He led an Asian Liberation Army which fought in the Korean War of 1952. The Chinese army that attacked India in 1962 was led by him. He wanted to emancipate India from the western influence but Indians could not recognise him, so he ordered the army to retreat. In Vietnam, he was guiding Ho-Chi-Minh in his fight against US imperialism. He went to Paris in 1969 to mediate for the Vietnamese in the ‘Paris Peace Talks’. Before that, he visited Tashkent to help draw up the Tashkent Pact between India and Pakistan on January 10, 1966. Lastly, he turned his attention to his native state and was in north Bengal in 1970-71 guiding the ‘Mukti-joddhas’ in their liberation war for Bangladesh.


Finally – never finally of course – the tributes continue in an effort to actually recognise the achievements of the man.


Me, I most like the story of him beating the black hole monument plaque with his slipper, as mentioned in my article in *Strangely Beloved* by the wonderful Nilanjana Gupta.

Thanks to Sarunas for the latest diversion into this quick sand trinketry.

Opium and Political Economy in Bengal

On why I think Marx’s writing style is misrepresented by the all-too-dour and serious commentators on Capital – you know, the famous ones published by big presses or with online lecture series… :) and anyway wanted to remember and article where I selected a few choice quips by the old beardo. The following is from an essay I called ‘Marx in Calcutta’ for City, in which I had been explaining a path Engels almost chose that would have meant Bengal, not Manchester, was key:

‘Marx’s commentary on Benjamin Disraeli’s ‘awful solemnity’ in a speech on what Marx calls, in an article for the ‘New York DailyTribune‘, the ‘quid pro quo’, and welcome,‘national rebellion’ of India in 1857 (Marx, NYDT, 14 August 1857).’


‘Marx’s articles in the Tribune on EIC opium are where he most clearly expresses his fascination with and condemnation of Clive, ‘the robber baron’ (NYDT, 8 August 1853).’ All this surrounds opium, a trade Clive helped introduce, ‘In Marx’s journalistic commentary he exposed ‘flagrant self-contradiction of the Christianity canting and civilization-mongering British’ in their efforts to ‘affect to be a thorough stranger to the contraband opium trade, and even to enter into treaties proscribing it’ (Marx, NYDT, 28 September 1858). This is the definition of hypocrisy, since despite also forcing ‘opium cultivation upon Bengal’ (NYDT, 28 September 1858) and arranging ‘for private ships trading to China’, the regulations governing this shipping carried a provision which imposed ‘a penalty to them if freighted with opium of other than the Company’s own make’ (NYDT, 28 September1858).’

All this is sort of what I meant in the ‘funny’ quip department, but the bit mentioning “Capital” I was looking for that directly speaks to funny slurs is later in my essay – sorry, could not locate it right away, but eventually did. Here goes:

“[Marx’s] ‘Critique of Political Economy’, is more than a subtitle of the book; it can be read as a sustained commentary on apologists for EIC extortion. His targets are EIC employees, James Mill, John Stuart Mill, and that ‘sycophant and fine talker’ Macauley, or immediate bourgeois critics of the EIC, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke. Then the critique takes as prime targets the apologist ‘learned professors’, those abstemious ‘penitents of Vishnu’ (Marx 1867[1996], 593), who train the EIC officer corps at Haileybury College, ‘population’ Malthus and Sir Richard Jones, both professors of political economy at the EIC training school. Alongside some anonymous—to Marx—texts on the benefits of the East Asia trade to Britain and the like, these are the majority representatives of the political economy he critiques.”

All the paras above are from my 2018 essay ‘Marx in Calcutta’, City, 22:4, 490-509 – you can easily find a pdf on the download page – ^^. But, lest you think I’d neglect the old dart’s opioid pandemic:

The opium trade of course was not something lost on workers in the UK, and Marx also mentions Godfrey’s Cordial which was fed to children so mothers could work. I had searched for a bottle for a while (reseearch purposes) and found an OHIO version of one on ebay – pictured – and where the following decription graces the page:

“Up for auction is a labeled medicine bottle advertising “Great Seal – Godfrey’s Cordial – The Styron-Beggs Co. – Mfg. Chemists – Newark, Ohio” with the original matching box. The label on this bottle and the box read in part “each fluid ounce contains one and three-fifth grains Opium” and then gives directions for use and “Antidote….. tickle palate with feather”. This bottle is embossed “Great Seal The Styron Beggs Co. Newark Ohio”, measures approx. 5″ tall x 2″ wide x 7/8″ deep and is in excellent condition with no damage. The box is printed with nice blue and red lettering with a skull and crossbones graphic and also is in excellent condition as shown. View the pictures carefully as they are part of the description. We will show or mention any notable defects. Please email if you have any questions or need clarification so you can be satisfied with your purchase . We will combine shipping for multiple wins if possible. Guaranteed Old & Original as is everything we sell. PLEASE SEE MORE LABELED MEDICINE BOTTLES (Nice grouping with similar ingredients) THAT WE ARE RUNNING NOW IN OUR OTHER AUCTIONS. Items sold with contents intact are for collecting/display purposes only and are to be handled with care. They are NOT to be ingested or used. By bidding and buying any item with its content you assume full responsibility, agree to these statements, and will deem Nostrums’; Quackery harmless in the event of any problems or accidents should they occur. For those of you who follow our auctions we WELCOME you back. For those of you who are new to eBay or have just found us you will not be disappointed with the service we provide and we hope you are successful in adding to your collections. At the beginning of each year we bring FRESH offerings of UNUSUAL items to eBay and we hope you bookmark us for future auctions for years to come. THANK YOU!”

Meanwhile, Mrs Winslow’s stay stoned in bed soothing syrup – fine for those who can afford velvet curtains and bedding – a little more serious for mums who had to work.

When Karl Marx Was Interested In ‘Nothingness’ Of Buddha



This item by Sankar Ray appeared Dec 13th. I’ve removed the ads (as there were many and they were nothing too)

When Karl Marx Was Interested In ‘Nothingness’ Of Buddha

By Sankar Ray

Lay readers in the SAARC region may be pleasantly surprised to learn that Karl Marx read and commented on the ‘concept of nothingness (Sanskrit: Śūnyatā; Pali: Suññatā; Vietnamese: Không)’ of Gautama Buddha   in two letters, written on 18 and 20 March 1866. While staying as a medical tourist in Margate, England, Marx was, suffering from hidradenitis suppurativa which is a painful and chronic dermatological state that causes abscesses and scarring on the skin, hair follicles, specifically, sweat glands, usually around the groin, bottom, breasts and armpits.

This revelation of Marx is in one of the two papers, to be presented online, by Marx scholar Pradip Baksi from  Kolkata + at a two-day  international conference on innovation in the social sciences and humanity, hosted by Ton Duc Thang University, Ho Chi Minh City on 17 and 18 December 2021 – the second conference in Vietnam. Baksi who translated ‘Mathematical Mauscripts of Marx into English and Bengali is the author of ‘Karl Marx and Mathematics (Aakar books and Routledge).

Marx wrote to his second daughter, Laura who married Paul Lafargue, “I have become myself a sort of walking stick, running up and down the whole day, and keeping my mind in that state of nothingness which Buddhaism (Buddhism) considers the climax of human bliss… As to myself, I have turned into a perambulating stick, running about the greatest part of the day, airing myself, going to bed at 10 o’clock, reading nothing, writing less, and altogether working up my mind to that state of nothingness which Buddhaism  considers the climax of human bliss”

Although published in the 1970s in the complete works of Marx and Engels by the two institutes of Marxism-Leninism of Moscow and Berlin, party ideologues either missed these letters or deliberately ignored them. In the post-Soviet Union years when Marx-related study and researched imbibed sort of ‘glasnost’, such findings assume scholastic interests that were not encouraged under Soviet Union.

So Bakst’s paper is likely to trigger debate around Marx anew. Baksi in a communication stressed that Marx was ‘irreligious but not anti-religion’. Marx came to learn Buddha’s thoughts from one of books by an intimate friend Carl (Karl) Friedrich Koeppen (Köppen) –‘Die Religion des Buddha, 2 Bde. Erster Band. Die Religion des Buddha nd ihre Entstehung’. But ‘Marx’s personal copies of these books appear to be lost; they are not yet indicated in the reconstructed catalog of the on-going publication of complete works, letters, notes etc (original) of Marx and Engels (MEGA2), at the International Institute of Social History, University of Amsterdam.

The paper is of relevance to scholars and perceptive readers of   South East Asian region including Vietnam where many currents of Buddhism and Marxism have converged for many years from many directions and made grounds for ‘some unique opportunities for the future emergence of scientific investigations on the teachings of Siddhārtha Gautam Buddha and those of Karl Marx from within the contemporary societies there’, Baksi envisions.

Over 100 papers are scheduled to be presented at the two-day brainstorming conference where Marx and Marx related topics will  come under discussion but the papers cover a wide range focusing on the major social issues ..  Well known scholars such as Peter Hudis (‘Pathways to social development: Rosa Luxemburg’s studies on the anthropology and sociology of imperialism’) and Marcello Musto (‘A Reappraisal of Marx’s ethnological notebooks) will be participating. .

Apart from Vietnamese who comprise the largest participants at the global conclave, over a dozen of Indians and India-born scholars will take part in the deliberations. Their research is on burning issues from  the kinetics of violence on Rohingyas lives (Arnab Roy Chowdhury, Higher School of Economics University, Moscow: ‘Citizen’s alterity: the dynamics of violence, temporality, and sovereignty on Rohingya lives’ and Md Reza Habib: ‘The Rohingyas in Bangladesh: refugees-host community conflicts over natural resources in Cox’s Bazar) to  militarism and ethnic dissent in post-LTTE Sri Lanka(  Debopriya Shome: Tourism, army and ethnic – conflict in post –war Sri Lanka ) and problems  of  intertwined spaces of cultural practice of intertwined spaces of cultural practice: the case of Cing/gong culture of Lach people in Vietnam (Truong Thi Thu Hang: The intertwined spaces of cultural practice: the case of Cing/gong culture of Lach people in Lac Duong district, Lam Dong province, Vietnam).

The spread of academic interests is evident. If Anna Potsar and Artem Uldanov’s paper, ‘New Russian political myths: how the narratives on the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and his return to Russia construct binary oppositions, exploit public trust, and deploy arguments through mythologization’, Jack Boulton’s  ‘Plantations and prisoners: escaping the plantationocene, by hook or by crook, Jonathan Beller’s (Pratt Institute, New York) ‘A preamble to the decolonization of money’ and Michelangelo Paganopoulos’ ‘Transgressing the ‘field’ notes on the dialectics of enlargement in live cinematic events are of theoretical construct in the main,  papers cover topics that are of present continuous reality, varying  from tourism and tourism-related issues to COVID-generated socio-psychic and ambient realities.

Huynh Thi Anh Hong ‘Food image to perceive tourists’ awareness on branding destination and revisit intention when traveling post -COVID pandemic, Scott McQuire’s ( University of Melbourne) ‘The right to the networked city: urban communication, geomedia and urban digital infrastructure’, Nguyen Huu Minh’s (Vietnam Sociological Association) ‘Main challenges of Vietnamese families nowadays and the coming years’ , Nikos Papastergiadis’s (University of Melbourne’ ‘ Cosmopolitanism: from the moral imperative to the impulse for eros and hospitality in the creative constitutive and  Ishita Banerjee’s ( El Colegio de México)  ‘The flavours of tourism and the aroma of home: food as a diasporic concept’  focus on the imperative to fathom into day-to-dayness of human society. (IPA Service)

5 min interview

I get the occasional cold call from secondary school students and always try to respond with some things that are expected and some unexpected. They might miss the mark, or be a bit wayward, but you know its a good sign when a year 11 student is interested in research. This one came from South Australia – literally five minuted response, so hardly even as taxing as the effort of posting it here (almost). The questions were about the Sundarbans, as the student Fariha had read a review essay on recent-ish books:

  • Can you explain the situation that transpired in the Sundarban, after Cyclone Amphan hit?

To be fair, compared to you or anyone else with internet access, I cannot say anything much on this because I’m unable to travel at present and really, I would need to go and have a look for myself. Everything else I could tell you about the Sundarbans in the last year would be a summary of what is already online. I think having a look for yourself is the only way an anthropologist can say something different to what an year 11 researcher might find after a few weeks looking online. To some extent the habit of contextualising is something you learn with time, but if you are sensible you will know not to rush to judgement, to consider as many interpretations you can, and come up with your interpretation without thinking its always correct or final. That is the fun of research though, isn’t it.

  • Why is the Sundarban area so important (culturally, ecologically, economically, etc.)?

Trees, people, animals. In Annu Jalais book Forest of Tigers, you can read heaps about the relationships  of humans to animals and jungle. Its fascinating, and there is a lot to learn for all of us.

  • What strategies are being implemented and/or proposed in the Sundarban to protect the site and local communities?

Hmmm, many, good and bad. You should investigate the Marichjhapi massacre for an example of something that went wrong.

  • What determines the livelihood of the local people in Sundarban? How has extreme weather events such as cyclone Amphan affected their livelihood?

Much. Much. Much. Much. But then, ‘extreme weather’ is becoming less extreme in the sense that its hitting everywhere, so that by definition is not extreme but the new normal, however much we’d like to keep thinking its not. I mean, is ‘extreme weather’ or ‘climate change’ not just a way of talking about pollution without putting the blame of the top 100 corporations that easily produce the majority of world pollution, from plastics to carbon monoxide to toxins, to the entire commodity system?

  • How does the local community’s perspective on the Sundarban and what solution do they perceive will help mitigate the impact of extreme weather events?

The mitigation you speak of requires a wider revolutionary movement, the return and even greater engagement of people’s organisations to wrest control of the means of production from the greedy plutocrats that currently dominate and ensure no voice of the people can be heard except when they are controlling the microphone (platform, outlet, forum).

  • Some writers and scholars have highlighted that dating back to the colonial era, the government has historically offered little help to victims of natural disasters. Do you see any parallels between the situation then and now?

What is the difference between colonialism and neo-colonialism? Perhaps the difference is that while people know about it now, people do less about it. A kind of mass paralysis of everyone sitting in front of a screen nodding to the ever slowing heartbeat of their own disengagement.

  • How has the nature of the Sundarban itself changed over time as a result of lack of consultation and lack of political will for a solution and how has that impacted the lives of the community?

Lack of consultation – sounds like a thing, but consultation with who? The lack of political will is real at least I guess, even as communities have been forced out of the area for various reasons.

  • What do you think needs to change in order for the situation in the Sundarban to improve?

Overthrow of the ruling class, defeat of corporate culture, opportunism and bigotry, a real critique of the so-called ‘climate crisis’ (pollution/world destruction). Of which a research project like yours can be a start, but cannot be all we do – it can start with research but it must expand to get more people involved, more people need to be reading and learning about revolutionary theory and thinking long and hard about forming organisations that are collectively run, counter-hegemonic (look it up if need be – against the dominant) and in the business of informed critical engagement, questioning everything, accepting nothing (including this)  and of course allowing for occasional five minute rants by grizzled old professors who wish they were a part of the coming global communist insurrection that will be the only thing that will save us all from rampant grasping crazy-ass capital.

Le Duan

VCP Gen Sec

‘wipe out the vestiges of petty-bourgeois ideology and the influences of bourgeois ideology, and in particular, firmly oppose individualism, the ideological source of revisionism. If there are communists who become revisionist it is because they are afraid of the hardship of the revolutionary struggle, of sacrifices, and only want to live an easy-going life, consequently they get addicted to bourgeois habits, ways of living and ideology: for these persons, the noble and fine communist ideal has disappeared [and] they only dream of the Western bourgeois way of living, and consider it as the model, their highest objective of struggle, they tremble with fear, compromise with and then ideologically surrender to the imperialists and reactionaries’ (Le Duan, speech to the Dec 1963 Vietnam Workers Party Central Committee, in “Selected Writings”, Hanoi: the Gioi Publishers p. 155-156)

“The Party’ s leadership constantly rests upon the principle of collective leadership. Personal arbitrariness is totally alien to its nature. No individual even one endowed with exceptional gifts, can ever understand and comprehend all things and events in all their aspects and ceaseless changes in form. Hence the necessity of a collective intellect. Only collective decisions taken on the strength of a collective mind can avoid subjectivism, which leads to errors with often dangerous consequences. Collective leadership is the highest principle in the Party’s leadership. This by no means lessens the personal responsibility of the leaders. At present, some comrades in a number of leading organs are not paying due regard to the principle of collective leadership. On the other hand, certain comrades rely on the “collective” to look after everything, and put the flame on the “collective” for every one of their own errors and failures without admitting their individual responsibility. We must put an end to this state of affairs.” Le Duan ‘The Vietnamese Revolution’ (n.d. but 1969-70 approx) in “Selected Works” 1994, p.316

Opium in HCMC

A lockdown post.

Looking forward to continuing to explore the city one great meal at a time. Here are some of my notes on La Manufacture d’Opium, at 74 Hai Ba Trung – and a bit about Subhas Chandra Bose at the end..

The stylised opium poppy design in the entrance arch for Number 74 Hai Ba Trung signals, almost like a guilty secret, that this was the site of the French Opium Factory in Sai Gon/Ho Chi Minh City, from 1881.


The Opium Trade was a vicious French colonial policy, of which Ho Chi Minh famously mentions in his Declaration of Independence in 1945:

“for more than eighty years, the French imperialists, abusing the standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, have violated our Fatherland and oppressed our fellow-citizens. They have acted contrary to the ideals of humanity and justice.

In the field of politics, they have deprived our people of every democratic liberty.

They have enforced inhuman laws; they have set up three distinct political regimes in the North, the Center and the South of Vietnam in order to wreck our national unity and prevent our people from being united.

They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slain our patriots; they have drowned our uprisings in rivers of blood.

They have fettered public opinion; they have practiced obscurantism against our people.

To weaken our race they have forced us to use opium…”

Not that surprisingly, this opium history in HCMC has been erased over time – ever more so, it seems. The latest update even removed the name plate that mentioned “La Manufacture d’Opium” (without any context). The restaurants inside seem to erase more and more indication of what this was. When I first visited there was a sign at least, now, like so many places where this trade went on, there is no sign.

Tim Doling writes: “It was built in 1881 after the Cochinchina authorities took back the opium franchise from Wang Tai and was significantly expanded in size in the early 1900s, when the opening of the new Yunnan railway line gave the French a new cheap and plentiful supply of raw opium from China”

There is much more to dig out on this place. which of course I hope to do – this is a holding post for that work. Anyone got stuff please send. Anyone want to visit and explore – some fine dining options even, get in touch. Some of it looked a little run down 2 years ago:

before the most recent update. Photo: John Hutnyk

To its credit, one of the restaurants in the complex does keep a little history on its website:

As soon as Indochina was conquered, the French understood the financial benefits they could reap out of the opium trade. Usage was already widespread in the local community.

In 1861, two Frenchmen acquired the rights to trade and they quickly became very prosperous. By 1881, the Governor of Indochina decided to exercise direct control over the refining and sale of opium in the colony. The concession had passed from French to Chinese hands and there were security concerns over the situation.

The refinery – La Manufacture d’Opium – was build that year. You can still admire the old logo, an interlaced wrought iron O & M, in the main gate as you enter the courtyard from Hai Ba Trung Street as well as the stylised carved opium poppies above the entrance.

The administration, La Régie de l’Opium – the building still stands at the end of Ham Nghi Street, facing the river – controlled the sales via approved distributors who sold the goods in stamped brass boxes. Prices were set by decree.

This revenue generated a large part of the colony’s budget – up to 37% in 1914.

The opium refined in Saigon came mostly from India. Only a very small amount was grown in the colony.

As early as 1907, a decree was introduced that forbade the opening of new opium dens but it seems that production did not actually stop until 1954.

For the next 20 years, the area became the red light district of Saigon. In 1975 the buildings were split into housing for Customs Department officials. They still lived here when we opened in 2006.

Photo: Shashwati Talukdar
Photo: Shashwati Talukdar

And just nearby, the last refuge of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

Just up the road from the Opium factory, there is another site of interest. I have been collecting material and visiting the house that Bose stayed in here in Saigon at the end of the second global imperialist war. Its a bit dilapidated but still owned by the Indian grandson of the guy that made it available to Bose. I think it probably that Bose could have stayed in the hexagonal guest room at the back. The likelihood of it being torn down in favour of a glass and chrome skyscraper is high unless some dosh is found to rip off the horrible hoardings on the front – though it is not that offensive that the courtyard has become the home for about 6 street food cafes, some of which are very good – others do specialties that I don’t rate but some do – those huge snails do not seem that appetising to me :)/ There is also a shrine to some other soldier, from a later period in the back part of the driveway heading towards the servant’s kitchen. Whoever actually lives in the house seems to be struggling to keep things going, and the condition is very basic and run down, though well secured. From here Bose either was flown to Taiwan and the plane crashed on the tarmac – there is no record of any crash. Or, he was taken to the nearby Bot Catinat (Police station, notorious for its torture dungeons) and killed, which seems the more likely. Other, wilder, stories say he became an advisor to Ho Chi Minh and is even pictured in the delegation to Paris!! I think that is a stretch, despite the mysterious Bengali-looking man who was in the inner circle for the right time. Others of course ‘found’ him in Benares as a sadhu and still others were awaiting his return, at least as late as 1995, in Calcutta – probably still are. We can discount most of these latter fantasies. None so far can really be confirmed. Shashwati Talukdar is making a film on all this and I took her to the house 3 years ago to film. Its interesting that this is not renovated, despite being only a few doors up from the Opium factory and its set staging of colonial grand exotic theme restaurants, with no real remaining evidence that its the opium factory except for the undeniable opium decorations in the main gate. You can see some snaps from visits above:

Now, I know its a dangerous thing to even mention Subhas as it seems to always get me entangled in long ‘conversations’ with those who think he’s due to return any moment – a sprightly 123 year old jogs past and I wonder, doesn’t he look a little… – but I also want to write something about “The Forgotten Army – Azaadi ke Lite”

“The Forgotten Army’ is the dynamic story of Lt. Sodhi and his daredevil band of men and women who fought a heroic battle for the independence of India as part of the Indian National Army which was forged out of British defeat in Singapore during WWII and led by the charismatic, indomitable Indian leader Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose”
Starring Sunny Kaushal, Sharvari Wagh,

I am not sure how to get into it, but I’ve collected Bose trinkets since 1987 – when he will have been 90, so might still have turned up at one of the expectant vigils – cue every Sadhu spotting hyper-mystery mulcher ever. I do at least have the chance to sit and write this, or at least sketch a plan, in the last house he lived in here in Sai Gon before, probably, being carted off to the nearby, still extant, police lock-up (though not a lock-up anymore, its the Ministry of Culture – and the dungeons are totally flooded, thanks Tim Doling). Many thanks also to Joe Buckley for first taking on the mission to find the Bose place back in 2017. Now, how to track the INA through the Malay Peninsula and up to Imphal. Planning random trips in lockdown may be a little perverted though. Challo Delhi!
You like unrequited love stories? This series has it too – Shah Rukh Khan’s influence perhaps

Watch the forgotten Army

This little finale though, about the owner of the building where Bose stayed, from Shrawanti Saha. It is poignant and needs to be followed up – perhaps a visit to Pondicherry at last.:

“As the country today celebrates the birth anniversary of Netaji – the symbol of courage, valour and patriotism, my mind takes me back to my holidays in Vietnam couple of years back. While browsing through the various museums, war remnants, palaces, French colonial landmarks and the food stalls lining the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, (Saigon), I had the good fortune of visiting the mansion, where Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, was last seen in Saigon in 18th August, 1945 before he mysteriously vanished from the face of earth. This sprawling villa in the posh ‘white town’ of Saigon belonged to Leon Prouchandy, one of the most prominent and affluent Indian Tamil, originally from Pondicherry, living in Saigon.Like many Indians living abroad, he too, supported Netaji’s bid for armed liberation of India and donated handsomely to the fund of Indian National Army. This mansion on Hai Bha Tung Road, Ho Chi Minh City, once 76 rue Paul Blanchy, Saigon, used to be Prouchandy’s abode before he gave a portion of it away to serve as the secretariat of Indian Independence League. This was the mansion, where Prouchandy bade adieu to Netaji before flying out in the Japanese plane on the fateful morning of 18th August, 1945. It is said that the two spent the previous night together discussing about his final destination and the whereabouts of the cash, jewellery and gold donated by the Indians to INA. Soon after the 2nd World War ended and Japan surrendered, the British authorities arrested Prouchandy infront of his entire family from this same mansion. It took me little time and effort to spot this once palatial villa on the busy Hai Bha Tung Road as I could never imagine a place of such historical importance could house dirty shacks selling momos and street food, the sprawling lawns used as parking spaces for two wheelers and the porch in front could have a florist shop!! It was painful to see how this historic building is in a dilapidated state and lacks minimum maintenance. However, in case you are still wondering about the whereabouts of Leon Prouchandy, then you sure are in for some shock. He was imprisoned and subjected to inhuman torture to extract information about Netaji and his treasure trove. Those 3 months of barbaric torture left him shattered and broken. He had lost his memory, senses and speech, when he was brought back to Pondicherry, where he lived another 23 years of his life in a vegetative and debilitated state. This was the price Leon Prouchandy, paid for his patriotism and supporting Netaji Bose. Thus one of the prime financiers of INA died a death of anonymity.”

photographs by Elizabeth Riley
Photos: Joe Buckley

More opium architecture:

An additional note to follow – up on Duong Tôn Đức Thắng, a building from 1885-1887 redesigned following the French architect Alfred Foulhoux wbut previously owned by Maison Wang-Tai, and in the new building decorated with further stylised opium poppies as described in Saigoneer.

World Rhino Day

The great Pachyderms (obsolete taxonomic category of old) – I’ve written about Ganda the rhino who circumnavigates Africa, from Gujurat to Marseilles in 1515, a gift from Sultan MuzafarII, ruler of Cambay, sent to the Portuguese King, after the Sultan had declined Alfonso Albuquerque’s request to build a fort in Surat. Ganda, and his keeper Ocem, get to Marseilles in 1516 but sink off the coast of Italy (Ganda was chained to the deck. Sad). The Indian rhino these days is endangered; is the mascot of the security wing of the army (5th Assam I think); and deserves a better fate. See below for a link to a short history of World Rhino Day, and to my article on Ganda, and a great littel vid on Albrecht Durer’s print of Ganda (done without seeing him in the flesh). A pity, since who could not love a mug like these? Gotta have a thick hide, eh?

My chapter on Ganda was in this book, cover below, from Jadavpur Uni Press – a link to an earlier version is below since I don’t have a pdf, but you can also read Niranjan Goswami’s introduction on the google links straight after the cover below:

Here is the draft of the essay – a few changes in editing…

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And then, finaly, there is this really good vid explaining much about Durer’s rendering of Ganda:

also see this link

Japan – Vietnam archives

Another set of items for the exotica files (link below), is a set of documents held in the national Archives of Japan and I think very useful for the next time we get to visit Hoi An (soon I hope):

The image below is Sataro Araki’s junk. He was a successful trader from Nagasaki who married one of the Nguyen clan daughters, and in Nagasaki she was revered as ‘Aniou’ – seemingly a derivation of the Vietnamese phrase used by a wife to get the attention of her husband – ‘Anh Ơi.

The rest of. the archive is well worth a look:

Colonial Hyperbole, with gaps

There are some crimes that are longer-term than others… As I am finding from spending part of the morning exploring archival images, such as this one. A ‘British propaganda poster from the Second World War, printed in England by A.C. Ltd, listing Britain’s 49 colonies. A soldier from the Ceylon Garrison Artillery takes pride of place in the centre, and the regimental badge of the force is displayed at the foot of the poster’. I am taken by surprise that neither India nor Australia could as a colony in this list, but nevertheless, I think the list is a start for reparation payments. How these can be implemented now that Boris has shifted all the assets to offshore accounts is obviously an administrative issue (armed force to descend upon Bermuda banks and the like with the queen’s bank account number to start).

Physical Location: Cambridge University Library: Royal Commonwealth Society Library
Classmark: RCMS 22/57/1

Journal of Asian and African Studies – vol 55 no 6 2020

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Table of Contents

Special Issue: Sociology in Vietnam Today


Volume 55 Issue 6, September 2020
Guest Editor: John Hutnyk

Sociology in Vietnam

Nguyen Minh HuanJohn Hutnyk
Original Articles

The Model of Population Transition in Vietnam in Relation to Europe and Asia: A Quantitative Approach

Ha Trong Nghia

Tube Housing as Dominant System and Everyday Urban Culture of Saigon-Ho Chi Minh City

Huyen Truong-YoungTrevor Hogan

Social Structure of Changing Labour Relations in Vietnam

Le Thi Mai

Camaraderie and Conflict: Intercultural Communication and Workplace Interactions in South Korean Companies in Bình Dương Province, Vietnam

Nguyen Thi Hong-XoanCatherine Earl

Forestry Policy and Legitimacy: The Case of Forest Devolution in Vietnam

Thi Kim Phung Dang
No Access

Promoting Participation in Local Natural Resource Management through Ecological Cultural Tourism: Case Study in Vam Nao Reservoir Area, An Giang Province, Vietnam

Le Hue HuongBui Loan ThuyNguyen Thi Phuong Linh
No Access

Community Initiatives and Local Networks among K’ho Cil Smallholder Coffee Farmers in the Central Highlands of Vietnam: A Case Study

Hang Thi Thu Truong

Travel Branding in Tourism 4.0: Case Study Vietnam Travel


LGBTQIA+ at the Blue Sky Club in Ho Chi Minh City

Do Xuan HaNguyen Phi HienBui Mai SinhNguyen Thi Phuong Linh

Domesday’s eastern roots.

It seems like that old “goodness gracious me” sketch about the funny uncle that was claiming everything in Britain was ‘Indian’ was, – yup, Indian – accurate after all:

Reading Wittfogel and on page 214 he finds the Domesday Book, tdocumenting property rights for landlords of yore, has Arab [Saracen – Ghengis – ok, almost Indian] origins…

‘When in 1066 the Normans conquered England, some of their countrymen had already set themselves up as the masters of southern Italy, an area which, with interruptions, had been under Byantine administration until this date: and some of them had established a foothold in Sicily, an area which had been ruled by Byzantium for three hundred years and after that by the Saracens, who combined Arab and Byzantine techniques of absolutist government.

We have no conclusive evidence regarding the effect of this Byzantine-Saracen experience on William and his councilors. But we know that in 1072—that is, thirteen years before William ordered the description of England—the Normans had conquered the capital of Sicily, Palermo, and the northern half of the island. And we also know that there were considerable “comings and goings” 43 between the Italian-Sicilian Normans and their cousins in Normandy and England, particularly among the nobility and clergy. The latter happened also to be actively engaged in administrative work.44 No wonder, then, that on the basis of his knowledge of the period Haskins, the leading English expert on English-Sicilian relations in the Middle Ages, suggests “the possibility of a connexion between Domesday Book. and the fiscal registers which the south had inherited from its Byzantine and Saracen rulers.” [cites himself]

Haskins’ hypothesis explains well why a typically hydraulic device of fiscal administration appeared in feudal Europe. It also explains why for hundreds of years afterward this “magnificent exploit” had no parallel in that area. Evidently, systematic and nationwide registration was as out of place in feudal society as it was customary in the realm of Oriental despotism’ (Wittfogel 1957: 214)


from Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power and yes, the Orientalism and the anti-communism are strong in this one, and comparative studies on this scale are wild speculation at the level of conclusion, but int he detail, well, the detail is amazing. It is like a randomised global free association generator.

two Bengals

Somewhere I have a photograph of a piece of graffiti from Kolkata in the early 1990s. It shows three palms behind a brick wall on which is painted “Like the two Germany’s Bengal should be reunited”. (Cannot find it right now but will post it when I do).Of course, there is other news from India today, tragic violence in Delhi, a buffoon invited a buffoon to address 100,000 and other atrocities, but the good news was buried on page 6 as usual, and yes I know that is not what this railways initiative means, but 150 metres of track to go sounds like a useful development (for the record, the first partition of Bengal was proposed in 1905 and resisted, the second in 1947 we call partition and it was brutal, with ongoing effects, not least on the Jute Industry which lurched from collapse to collapse). Now this minor item of return.

From the telegraph today 22 Feb 2020

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Is it the wrong time to say Make Bengal Great Again, and get some hats?

Of course, there already is a hat – but it is from Cincinnati…

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Tipu’s Tiger should be Tipu’s – ship it back to the Bagh.

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We should ask V&A head honcho Tristram Hunt if he plans to hand any of the booty back.

The famous sepoy being eaten by a tiger should surely be repatriated to Seringapatnam. It was stolen after Tipu was defeated. I guess responsibility lies with Wellesley, but that the V&A did not itself first ‘acquire’ the object, that is no reason not to return it to the place it was stolen from. Elgin marbles are broken, but this piece is still operative and would be a great draw at the Summer Palace in Daria Daulat Bagh
Who is up for a campaign for this. See pic – they make the most of it here:

The model for teaching at TDTU – in collaboration with Đỗ Thị Xuân Hương and Võ Nguyễn Thiện Phúc

A short film made to explain a model of teaching for a class on Capital and Anthropology/Mapping at Ton Duc Thang University, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, 2018 – Director: Đỗ Thị Xuân Hương Camera and Editor: Võ Nguyễn Thiện Phúc

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Transcript of the film in English and Tieng Viet Click Appendix_bilingual_Tieng_Anh_va_Tieng_Viet.


Immigration force

Some may wonder why Britain quite likes having a cheap labour force available for illicit work, yet politicians spend huge amounts of time presenting their tough on immigration and border control credentials. Here is the previous PM when she was Home Office minister playing her immigration card: Theresa May’s statement in parliament from 26 March 2013 is at the root of the problem: May was announcing that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) was being split up, but she was whistling another doggy tune:
“The government is splitting up the UK Border Agency. In its place will be an immigration and visa service and an immigration law enforcement organisation. By creating two entities instead of one, we will be able to create distinct cultures. First, a high-volume service that makes high-quality decisions about who comes here, with a culture of customer satisfaction for businessmen and visitors who want to come here legally. And second, an organisation that has law enforcement at its heart and gets tough on those who break our immigration laws”
Get that – a law enforcement organisation, with a separate culture of being tough on immigration (the other part will just kow-tow to big business mates). Now no-one thinks the UKBA was up to snuff. I mean even the doyen of Labour moral fibre, molasses spine, Keith Vaz called it the UK Backlog Authority that day, but letting loose the dogs of a special policing unit, under her own office, and of course obsessed with being seen to be tough, was, well… you know how it pans out, again and again and again. And this does not end with trite pointing fingers only at those that encourage people to risk entering refrigerated tombs on wheels. The Tories have a huge share of the blame here, and if Labour didn’t still have a bunch of immigration phobic rightwingers in the bloated centre-right of the parliamentary party, I’d say it would be reason to vote the tories out in the coming election. If one went in for that voting malarkey (as opposed to offering them all a free trip on the Virgin Orbit test rocket – Launcher one, 31 October – having set the controls for the heart of the sun).
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Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities #ISSH2019

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An International Conference at Ton Duc Thang University October 4-5, 2019

Innovations are the key. In method and analysis, in the ways in which scholarship engages with society and organisations today, there can be no doubting the relevance of the social science and humanities to all our pressing questions. The Innovations discussed at the conference challenged our thinking. The topics were wide-ranging and varied, the approaches distinctly alive; some of the papers demonstrated a vivid combination of theoretical and practical research, some were insistently in a humanities’-oriented style, others more forthright and strictly social science, and still others experimented with the form and tone of the social sciences. Perhaps while bringing new methods to Vietnam, the creativity of the social sciences and relevance of the humanities for contemporary understanding was brought out even more by the diversity of themes and perspectives. Of course the traditional scholarship of the social sciences was also represented, but in writing that has an urgency and verve that excited discussion.



Guido Abbattista, University of Trieste (middle)

Professor Guido Abbattissta from the University of Trieste in Italy said the conference ‘was an exciting experience’. Dr Arnab Choudhury from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, said it was an ‘immensely wonderful conference, by far one of the most well-organised conferences I have ever attended’.

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Stephen Muecke Flinders University

The featured keynotes included a powerfully engaging presentation from Professor Stephen Muecke of Flinders University Australia. Prof Muecke is a hugely important voice in cultural studies and theorist of notions of the cultural landscape and ways of reading cultural relations between settler and Aboriginal Australia. His explanation of the walking method innovated by Aboriginal traditional landholders will inspire reflection and new practices, and perhaps some in Vietnam will want to take up the invitation of Aboriginal elder Paddy Roe to visit Western Australia and walk the ancient dreaming tracks near Broome with his family.

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Professor Joyce Liu (NCTU Taiwan) and Professor Ursula Rao (Uni Leipzig, Germany)

A keynote lecture by Professor Joyce Liu from National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan, on new methods of inter-Asian joint and multi-site research inaugurated a perspective on political and cultural research that promises new opportunities for collaboration and debate across borders. She spoke with an engagement that should never be sacrificed in scholarship while there are so many urgent and relevant issues upon which scholars must comment as the leading presenters of, explorers of, and advocates for ideas.

The conference as a whole addressed debates about why innovation and new methods in the social sciences and humanities in Vietnam are needed. This was to respond to clear demands within Vietnam for such methods and enthusiasms (perspectives of a number of Government and non-Government agencies have supported this with relevant statements, such as the government Global Challenges position papers in 2018, and the work of independent research units like Social Life). Mild Hombrebueno from the Philippines said she had ‘learnt a lot from the conference, built new networks, friendships and linkages’ and claimed enthusiastically:

‘I have been to other international conferences, but so far, this is the best experience I’ve ever had. The host university and the organizing committee were so accommodating even up to the last leg of the program. It was indeed full of intellectual discussions, where I made many realizations’


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Professor Rao

Participatory development projects need a new lease of life and a major rethink – and this was provided by Professor Ursula Rao from the University of Leipzig in Germany as she explored new thinking on the challenges of development in anthropology.

Ms Hombrebueno again commented:

‘meeting with Prof. Rao and her advocacy on Shaping Asia is just so exciting one! I am grateful [to have] the chance to be with the team’

Professor Elaine Carey from Purdue NorthWest in Indian a, USA, spoke on women and research on drugs in the archive, the depredations of the war on drugs and the lives of women drug lords were fascinating topics, with side excursions into the interests of American author William Burroughs and images from the press of mid-20th century Mexico and South America. The thinking here was deep as well as a gripping story – if there are no short cuts and no easy solutions, we are challenged at least to think hard – and it is also an inspiration to hear how we can also care about writing well, and hear this from the leading international scholars of our times.

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The conference had articles/panels on over 40 topics by cutting edge thinkers and on themes that remain urgent and pressing – for example, there was a session on the new area of sociobiology, there was the panel on education provision and socialization with a discussion of Vietnam and Australia on higher education successes. There was an engaging panel on participatory methods as a research tool eminently suited for new ways of doing research in the social sciences and humanities. Experts were involved and risking their ideas and critiques in every panel of the conference, though the discussions also spilled over into conversations in the corridors and in cafes afterwards. And the conference will continue to have an impact on scholarship in Vietnam and the region because the papers were published in a conference volume and some will be rewritten for journals and books in the coming months. The effect of the conference will help make TDTU one of the major centres in Vietnam for discussion of new research in these areas.
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The conference was open-ended and its assessment will continue long afterwards, with consequences that will shape ongoing research. As such, the papers presented are not only about new results, so much about new ways of going about getting those results and discussing those results – fostering a culture of research in the Universities that are open to the experience of social change, the challenges of the times and globally, shifting the locus of advanced research towards the region again, so that perhaps we will begin to arrest the so-called brain-drain where so much budding talent leaves the country for several, sometimes many, years . The conference will be part of a much-needed boost to refresh the social sciences and humanities.
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The key point to make is: that with such a large number of regional delegates – from India, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines – and a significant number of wider international guests – from the USA, Europe and Australia – this conference can be seen as a crucial establishing part of the project of making Vietnam, and TDTU, a key hub in the region for discussions about innovative research in the social sciences and humanities. It is highly appropriate then that this conference was held at TDTU – a young university, able to do things in a creative and exciting new way. We can only hope for more of this.
Roshni Kamalika Giocvanni
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Sundarbans, Climate, Tigers, Law.

Liquidity of the Sundarbans:

If the Tigers and Cyclones Don’t Get You, the Law Will

This forms the first part of a new research concentration for me, and owes much to colleagues at Jadavpur Uni now battling the BJP monstrosity. This sort of work relies upon the University remaining an open, critical, creative and thinking place. And such works as discussed here – more than three, a whole series of works are considered, reaching back to when I first met the history and philosophy folks at Jadavpur – are indicative of what remains that is good in the university, despite all that is happening.

50 e-prints for those quick off the mark, here:


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Global Digital Cultures

Very keen to read this:

Global Digital Cultures: Perspectives from South Asia  – 2019

By Aswin Punathambekar and  Sriram Mohan 


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Digital media histories are part of a global network, and South Asia is a key nexus in shaping the trajectory of digital media in the twenty-first century. Digital platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and others are deeply embedded in the daily lives of millions of people around the world, shaping how people engage with others as kin, as citizens, and as consumers. Moving away from Anglo-American and strictly national frameworks, the essays in this book explore the intersections of local, national, regional, and global forces that shape contemporary digital culture(s) in regions like South Asia: the rise of digital and mobile media technologies, the ongoing transformation of established media industries, and emergent forms of digital media practice and use that are reconfiguring sociocultural, political, and economic terrains across the Indian subcontinent. From massive state-driven digital identity projects and YouTube censorship to Tinder and dating culture, from Twitter and primetime television to Facebook and political rumorsGlobal Digital Cultures focuses on enduring concerns of representation, identity, and power while grappling with algorithmic curation and data-driven processes of production, circulation, and consumption.

Rumours! (my emphasis).

and page 208 discussed Afzal Guru:

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