As a social and cultural anthropologist focusing on Vietnam, my research explores the multifaceted transformation processes that arise from the dynamic interplay between state, society, and market. I completed my doctorate with a research focus on the reintensification of village ritual festivals in rural Vietnam (2000) and my habilitation with a project on urban spirit mediumship associated with the Vietnamese Mother Goddess Religion (2010). Since joining the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in 2009, I have led two research groups. The first one, Traders, markets, and the state in Vietnam, examined how Vietnam’s transition to a market-based economy was experienced and negotiated by small-scale traders in different local settings. The second research group, Electric statemaking in the Greater Mekong Subregion, is founded on the understanding that infrastructures form part of wider ideological projects and policies central to the organisation and exercise of state power.
Why Anthropology now?
Anthropology is best suited to explore and theorise the manifold societal challenges of our time. The ethnographic method––which involves deep immersion into local lifeworlds––enables us to explore and understand the vicissitudes and complexities of different social and cultural contexts. Anthropology thus contributes in important ways to an understanding of the human condition and fosters respect for the diversity of peoples and cultures.