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Accepted Paper:

Traders versus the state: negotiating urban renewal in Lao Cai City, Vietnam  
Kirsten Endres (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores contestations over urban renewal from the perspective of small-scale traders in Lao Cai City, Vietnam. It analyzes strategies of resisting and negotiating the redevelopment of a public market in light of Vietnam’s urban geographies of power.

Paper long abstract:

Over the past years, the city of Lao Cai has pursued ambitious urban development plans as part of Vietnam's national campaign to "build rich, beautiful and civilized cities". The special location of Lao Cai on the Vietnam-China border and its envisaged role as a hub of trade and tourism on the Kunming-Haiphong economic corridor not only required major investments into infrastructure improvements, but also efforts to enhance the city's visual appearance vis-à-vis its powerful and prosperous neighbor, China. As part of the city's face lift, Lao Cai's largest public market was demolished in October 2014, to be replaced by a modern four-storied market building at the same location over the next two years. Although the current stall-holders generally welcome the prospect of a cleaner and more beautiful market environment with spacious vending conditions and additional storage facilities, they do not approve of the municipal government's decision to finance the construction through forced contributions from the traders. This paper analyses the contestations and negotiations surrounding the market redevelopment project and the various strategies of resisting its implementation in light of Vietnam's contemporary urban geographies of power.

Panel P078
The anthropology of urban development: its legacies and the human future
  Session 1