SEAP Gatty Lecture March 2 features Professor Danielle Labbé


Danielle Labbé, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Montreal

Youth and Public Space in Hanoi

Danielle Labbé’s research is focused on the inter-relations between the production and appropriation of urban space in Vietnam. Her work uses a combination of historical, process-oriented, and social agency perspectives to explore the encounters between state intentions, governing practices, and everyday life during the urbanization process. Through this approach, Danielle’s research shows that, although taking place during a so-called “global era,” the ongoing urban transition in Vietnam remains deeply rooted in local circumstances. Placed in a comparative context, her research on this Southeast Asian country contributes to larger theoretical debates about state-society relations, urban governance, and regulatory informality in the fields of urban planning, human geography, and urban anthropology.

SEAP Gatty Lecture February 23 features Tim Gorman, Cornell Ph.D.


Tim Gorman, PhD Candidate, Department of Development Sociology, Cornell University

“Plan-Makers and Plan-Breakers: The Contentious Politics of Food Security and Climate Change Adaptation in the Mekong Delta”

Vietnam has long been plagued by food shortages, which have served as a potent driver of political unrest throughout the country’s modern history. While tremendous gains in rice production since the late 1980s have largely held hunger at bay, Vietnam’s food system is now dependent on a single region, the Mekong River Delta, whose low-lying rice fields are increasingly threatened by climate change. In response to this threat, the Vietnamese government has invested heavily in the construction of new infrastructure – such as dikes, dams, and sluice gates – meant to prevent the rising tides from inundating the delta with seawater.

These efforts have, however, encountered fierce resistance from a surprising source: farmers themselves. Facing acute environmental and economic pressures, many farmers are abandoning agriculture and converting their rice paddies into saltwater ponds, in which they cultivate shrimp for export. In response, the Vietnamese state has tightened restrictions on agricultural land use, levying fines and other sanctions against those “plan-breakers” who cultivate shrimp in areas designated for rice. The resistance of would-be shrimp farmers to these measures has focused on the infrastructure of water control itself, as they have torn down dikes, pried open sluice gates, or dug illegal wells from which to pump saline groundwater into their shrimp ponds. This talk draws on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews to examine the contentious politics of food security and climate change adaptation in the Mekong Delta, paying particular attention to how this conflict between state planners and market-oriented farmers challenges the notion of a neoliberal environmental or food regime and instead demonstrates the resurgent role of the state in controlling environmental conditions and managing agricultural production towards political ends.

Voices on Vietnam hosts community forum on immigration subject

In the midst of the emotion and confusion created by President Donald J. Trump’s executive order on immigration, Voices on Vietnam is organizing an informal gathering for students and members of the Ithaca community to come together and think through the immigration subject. The emphasis is to create an open and comfortable forum to have a conversation on refugees, civil liberties, and diversity. Professor Phuong Nguyen (Asian American Studies, Ithaca College) and Ducson Nguyen (Alderperson, Ithaca 2nd Ward) will reflect on current events and share their stories. This event is free and open to the public.