Saigon’s Edge: On the Margins of Ho Chi Minh City

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9780816656066: Saigon’s Edge: On the Margins of Ho Chi Minh City

Much of the world’s population inhabits the urban fringe, an area that is neither fully rural nor urban. Hóc Môn, a district that lies along a key transport corridor on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, epitomizes one of those places. In Saigon’s Edge, Erik Harms explores life in Hóc Môn, putting forth a revealing perspective on how rapid urbanization impacts the people who live at the intersection of rural and urban worlds.
Unlike the idealized Vietnamese model of urban space, Hóc Môn is between worlds, neither outside nor inside but always uncomfortably both. With particular attention to everyday social realities, Harms demonstrates how living on the margin can be both alienating and empowering, as forces that exclude its denizens from power and privilege in the inner city are used to thwart the status quo on the rural edges.
More than a local case study of urban change, Harms’s work also opens a window on Vietnam’s larger turn toward market socialism and the celebration of urbanization—transformations instructively linked to trends around the globe.

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About the Author:

Erik Harms is assistant professor of anthropology at Yale University.

Review:

"Sad and tragic, and at times funny and full of hope, Erik Harms shows how people live in the murky zones of the urban-rural divide, in the runoff, the debris, and wasteland of a now relentless urban industrial expansion. Saigon’s Edge is a wake up call for all of us who study the global city: socialist cities in the throes of global integration and world capitalist utopian imaginings have powerful stories to tell that we cannot afford to ignore. Saigon’s Edge sets a new benchmark on how to study the urban form, capitalist, socialist, and everything in between." —Ralph Litzinger, Duke University

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