Working Paper 128

Context and Value: anti-contextualist rationality and resistance. The case of burial customs in late socialist Vietnam

Markus Schlecker

Abteilung ‚Resilienz und Transformation in Eurasien’

Jahr der Veröffentlichung


Working Paper 128

The paper draws attention to Georg Simmel’s early scepticism toward socialism and his criticism of Marx’s labour theory of value. It demonstrates the interpretive utility of Simmel’s own model of valuation for a study of state-driven rationality projects that aim at decontextualising knowledge and popular resistance to such projects. The Vietnamese case serves here as an extreme example of a more widespread rationality hubris. The argument is illustrated by way of a few case-studies on burial practices from rural Vietnam. The aim of this paper is to approach the problem of context, specifically people’s frames of reference for action, to study the way context has become an object of reflection and literally a problem through state-driven rationality projects.

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