Yale Vietnamese Studies Group
Council on Southeast Asia Studies
October 16, 2012

"Tainted Commons, Public Health: The Politico-Moral Significance of Cholera in Vietnam."

Martha Lincoln, PhD Candidate, CUNY Graduate Center

In October 2007, a series of cholera epidemics broke out in Hanoi, interrupting a moment of economic triumphalism in post-market-transition Vietnam. In seeking the source of this confounding and uncontrolled "disease of poverty" in the modern city, officials, media, and regular citizens not only identified scapegoats and proposed solutions; they also endorsed particular visions of moral conduct, social order, and public health. Controversy over cholera, a potent politico-moral symbol, became a venue for other struggles, including the authority of the state, the status and disposition of public places/public sphere, and how public health is imagined and enacted in post-transition Vietnam.

Martha Lincoln is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at CUNY Graduate Center and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. In 2009, she received an IIE Fulbright award to conduct fieldwork in Hanoi, Vietnam. She is shortly to defend her dissertation, "The Causes of Cholera: Public Health in Post-Transition Vietnam." She has published on topics including human rights, biopower, and violence in American Anthropologist, Anthropology Now, Daedalus, Discourse, and Socialism and Democracy.

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