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Rambling thoughts on history.

In the spring of 2011, I was talking to my friend Karl about why I wanted to go home. Societal norms had been shaken to the core: premarital sex, LGBT community… issues once hushed up were now proudly coming to the fore. The changes in our private life highly correlates to the shift in ideology of the country we live in. I predicted that we would see more fractures in politics, and I wanted to be home for it. Change always excites me, especially when things are going downhill.

One year later, while doing research on the urban development history of Vietnam, I first saw the uncanny parallel between the Vietnam under French rule and the Vietnam today. It is the same pattern of land expropriation, proletarianization of landless farmers, construction of grandiose structures catering to the fancy of the top few, and an aspiration to Western aesthetics and modernity. Read the rest of this entry »

Another wave came crushing from our seemingly calm sea. A reporter got sacked after criticizing the Party Chief. Like others, I admire him, though true to what he said, in other times and places, what he does, voicing his opinion, would be considered so normal. And like others, I worry about his family’s future. He is married with a small son.

The controversy centers around the redrafting of our Constitution. When the news first came out about a website to gather citizens’ comments, i felt a light switched up inside. In a country of only “right-sided” information, everything is read between the lines. As i listened to a series of commentaries about wider citizens’ participation, i couldn’t help thinking: is this a signal of change? Is there some discussion on democratization within the party itself?  But editorials after speeches, reiteration of the one party rhetoric still stays the domineering theme. My initial optimism quickly passed, for as long as the constitution is not drafted as a legal document, but rather as a manifestation of a party’s will to rule, I see no hope. This political theater no longer of interest, it’s back to business as usual for me . But there are others who can’t stay to the side. Read the rest of this entry »