Tran Ngoc Angie, "Ties that Bind: Cultural Identity, Class, and Law in Vietnam's Labor Resistance" (Cornell UP, 2013)


Labour consciousness is not just class-based; it also emerges out of cultural identities, as Tran Ngoc Angie argues powerfully in Ties that Bind: Cultural Identity, Class, and Law in Vietnam's Labor Resistance (Cornell University Press, 2013). Vietnamese workers habitually form relationships based on native place, ethnicity, religion and gender. At critical class moments, as Tran calls them, these workers can also succeed in transcending or building on their cultural ties to form larger movements for labour rights. Through detailed study of 33 cases from French colonial Indochina to present day Vietnam, Tran tracks labour activism across a range of political and economic conditions, industries and sectors. Concentrating on the period since economic reform and liberalization from 1986 to the present, she compares worker agency in state-owned and equitized factories, factories with foreign-direct investment and domestic privately owned factories, to arrive at findings that speak to conditions not only in Vietnam today, but also to the lives and struggles of workers across much of Southeast and East Asia. Angie Tran joins New Books in Southeast Asian Studies to talk about trends in labour unrest in Vietnam, the importance of legal claims to workers rights, cicada factories, and time taken to read graffiti on toilet walls.

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