Institute of Vietnamese Studies and Development Science, Vietnam National University-Hanoi, Vietnam
Session Abstract: Current research on spatial history has vigorously adopted fundamental concepts of geography such as space and place. Analyzing space/place as contingent historical processes, this panel delves into debates querying distinctions between social space and lived-in place and/or between the circulation and flows of space and the naming and other local-based activities that anchored a place. It shows that territorial phenomena such as borders, maps, and administrative units were not simply imposed by the state but constituted by state interactions with place-bound local knowledge. In contested regions, especially, Chinese and Vietnamese states used these tools to prosecute their territorial claims, often in response to existing local concerns. By paralleling the spatial history of southwest China with that of northern Vietnam, we offer a comparative perspective into the question of how the locals, in turn, appropriated imperial spatial discourses both inside and outside the Chinese state.
Eloise Wright demonstrates that steles erected in state spaces in the early centuries of Chinese colonization of Yunnan engaged multiple local meaningful places. Hieu Phung argues that the divergence in map readership affected the way Vietnamese and Chinese authorities visualized the “Vietnamese” land. Vu Duong Luan uncovers local agency in the complicated border-making process through the Sino-Vietnamese disputes over the Tụ Long/Julong mine. Together, our papers use analysis of visual material and textual artefacts as well as historical narrative to contend that analysis of historical examples compels us to re-examine our use of the space/place dichotomy in studies of the premodern past.
Paper Presenter: Eloise Wright – University of Michigan
Paper Presenter: Hieu Phung – University of Michigan
Paper Presenter: Luan D. Vu – Institute of Vietnamese Studies and Development Science, Vietnam National University-Hanoi