Migration, mobilities, diasporas, multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, transnational media, overseas Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian communities.
Walking and cycling in Hoi An,Vietnam
This is an RSHA NIF funded project in collaboration with Dang Huong Giang of Action for the City and Dang Dinh Trung, RMAP, ANU.
We are currently conducting interviews and participant observation in Hoi An with those who persist in walking and cycling as a means of transport, exercise and leisure in the Land of the Honda. In a nation with one of the highest per capita rates of moped use in the world, these sustainable (and pleasant!) means of getting around are becoming increasingly marginalised. The urban middle classes overwhelmingly see walking and cycling as "backward" modes of mobility, and associate them with poor rural migrants in the city. In this research we will be interested in documenting the voices and practices of those who contest this stereotype. What do those who still walk and ride have to say about the experience of these modes of mobility?
We have chosen to conduct this research in Hoi An in part because of the presence of the historical old town or Pho Co at its centre. This UNESCO heritage site has a long history of walking and cycling, and it is the only place in Vietnam that has regular 'engine free' periods. Tourists are keen participants in the wallking and cycling culture of the Old Town. Many long term local residents of the Pho Co also continue to walk and ride as their main means of transport and work-related mobility, at least for short distance trips.
The surrounding New Town of Hoi An by contrast resembles a typical urbanising regional centre in Vietnam and is less friendly to non motorised forms of transport, thus providing a good contrast with mobilities in the more walkable/rideable part of the city.
Planned outcomes of the research include a report on the importance and potential of walking and cycling for the Hoi An People's Committee, as well as a scholarly publication.
This project grew out of my engagement with the exhibition Static Friction by artists Phunam, Matt Lucero and Tuan Andrew Nguyen of The Propeller Group. The show took place in May 2012 at Galerie Quynh in Ho Chi Minh City. After having written a catalogue essay for the artists, I have continued to research, speak and write about the role that the motorbike plays in contemporary Vietnamese urban life: as hyper-convenient mode of transport, status symbol, and means of 'moto-flanerie'. Inspired by the artists' interest in the motorbike's potential for exhilaration, excess and destruction, I have turned to Bataille as a means of making sense of the Vietnamese culture of moto-mobility.
Dark Tourism to a Former Vietnamese Refugee Camp
This project explores the creation of an "accidental" museum of the Vietnamese boat people crisis on the tiny island of Pulau Galang, Indonesia. We use the paradigm of Dark Tourism, or tourism to sites associated with death and suffering, to make sense of the way former refugees and more casual visitors to the site experience the island. Read more at: