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Currencies of Imagination: Channeling Money and Chasing Mobility in Vietnam

Speaker

Ivan Small (Anthropology, Comparative Cultural Studies, University of Houston)

Remittances from the Vietnamese diaspora have played an important role in Vietnam’s post Cold War economic development, providing important inputs to a range of household spending areas, from education to health care. In the case of Vietnam, however, remittances are also caught up with memories and traumas of war, separation and exodus.

Conceptually examining remittances as money, but also gifts, this book talk illustrates how Vietnam’s particular postwar refugee and remittance histories and channels exacerbate inherent contradictions in the mobile flows of finance, people, goods and services across borders that characterize globalization.

The observable correlation between remittance reception and desires for out-migration contributes to affective migratory cultures in which the consumption patterns afforded by remittances may be displaced into a variety of unexpected areas, with unintended effects.

The talk will conclude by examining the transnational scope of some of those effects in shaping recent diasporic community formations in the United States.

About the speaker:

Ivan V. Small is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Houston. He is author of Currencies of Imagination: Channeling Money and Chasing Mobility in Vietnam (Cornell University Press 2019) and co-editor of Money at the Margins: Global Perspectives on Technology, Financial Inclusion and Design (Berghahn Press 2018).

He has written numerous peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, op-eds and other publications examining connections between financial, bodily and material mobilities in Southeast Asia and global contexts. He has been a fellow at Fulbright University and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion in Irvine California and the Yusof Ishak Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Cultural Anthropology and the Asian American & Diaspora Studies program.