from Press News, posted 03/05/2013 - 11:45

We have just heard from Sean Turnell that an old NIAS friend, Melanie Beresford, died last week (of what causes is uncertain). She was only in her early sixties.

Melanie had a long association with NIAS from at least the 1990s when she collaborated with Irene Nørlund on various projects relating to Vietnam. Through this connection, she came to publish her first work with NIAS. This was a small but important study of the evolution of state institutions since 1945 in Vietnam with regard to economic power structures and decision-making. The study was especially important as it drew on the insider knowledge of her co-author, Dang Phong. Fifteen years later, we are still occasionally selling copies of Authority Relations and Economic Decision-Making in Vietnam.

A few years later, we were pleased to publish another book by Melanie (co-edited with Angie Ngoc Tran), Reaching for the Dream. The cover said it all about Vietnamese aspirations, optimism and pride in the economic transformation of their country. Melanie wrote:

It is of our landlady in Hanoi posing with her Dream II. The title ‘Reaching for the Dream’ contains a pun you see. I really like this photo: it reminds me of one of those very formal victorian married couple poses and … I'm sure she loves her Dream more than [her husband] ... It also happens to depict the Vietnamese idea of the bourgeois life (just as those victorian photos did).

Of course, she was more than a good friend of NIAS. Melanie Beresford was also a leading scholar on the political economy of Vietnam, one whose area of expertise also extended to gender and development, agrarian change and rural development, and network analysis. She conducted consultancies in Vietnam for various UN agencies, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Oxfam Quebec, and numerous Vietnamese ministries and committees. Apart from at NIAS itself, she also held visiting fellowships at numerous locations worldwide, including at the ANU’s Department of Political and Social Change, the Institute of World Economy in Hanoi and the Swedish Centre for Working Life in Stockholm.

These are just the bare bones from a long and varied career. What is not clear here is that Melanie was also a lovely person. It is frankly unbelievable that she is gone.

We’ll miss you, Melanie.


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