Red Hills

Migrants and the State in the Highlands of Vietnam

by Andrew Hardy

384 pp., illustrations & maps
NIAS Monographs # 93
Available from NIAS Press worldwide except North America and Asia-Pacific

Hardback - 2003, Available
ISBN 978 87 91114 80 9, £65.00
Paperback - 2005, Available
ISBN 978 87 91114 74 8, £22.50

• Winner of the 2005 Harry J. Benda Prize


Andrew Hardy, a young scholar educated in England, France, and Australia, has written a marvelous book, Red Hills: Migrants and the State in the Highlands of Vietnam . Dr. Hardy adroitly uses heretofore untapped archival material as well as official reports, published materials, and conversations with numerous people in several parts of Vietnam to provide a layered and nuanced account of internal migration from the perspectives of officials and especially migrants themselves.

Covering much of the twentieth century, Dr. Hardy shows how government migration policies and programs during two regimes – French colonial rule and the Communist Party government – actually played out over time and why some succeeded but many failed. Above all, by treating migration as a lived experience, Dr. Hardy vividly conveys in engaging prose how institutions, structures, and historical forces affect but rarely completely determine people’s decisions about whether to stay put or to move to remote, unfamiliar places and how those who do migrate can cope – or fail to cope – with the countless challenges posed by their new circumstances.

Dr. Hardy’s extraordinarily ambitious research and illuminating analysis make this splendid book an outstanding contribution to Southeast Asian studies.

•More about the book:

Several million rural inhabitants of Vietnam’s northern deltas made the decision to move home during the 20th century, seeking to make new homes in the country’s highlands. Their decisions and the settlements they created had wide-ranging effects on their home communities and on the people and environment of their destinations. Many migrations were made in response to policy decisions made in Hanoi.

The book offers a historical analysis of the political economy of migration, stimulated by the French colonial and independent socialist states. It shows how socialist policies especially changed the face of the highlands, as settlers from the plains turned the hills ‘red’.

Placing people’s experiences in the context of government policy and national history, this book explores their anticipations, difficulties, achievements and disappointments, highlighting the geopolitical importance of the highlands. It can be read as a contribution to migration studies in Southeast Asia, but also as a grassroots history of 20th-century Vietnam. Written in a lively reading style and illustrated by numerous maps and photographs, this study promises to become a classic in Vietnamese historical studies.

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