Vietnamese news accounts of labor-management conflicts, including strikes, and even reports of owners fleeing their factories raise potent questions about labor activism in light of this self-proclaimed socialist country’s engagement in the global market system since the late 1980s. In explaining Vietnamese labor resistance, how important are matters of cultural identity (such as native-place, gender, ethnicity, and religion) in different historical contexts? How does labor mobilization occur and develop? How does it foster “class moments” in times of crisis? What types of "flexible protests" have been used by workers to fight for their rights and dignity, and how effective are they?
Based on her just-published book, Ties that Bind: Cultural Identity, Class, and Law in Vietnam's Labor Resistance, Prof. Trần will highlight labor activism since French colonial rule in order to understand labor issues and actions in Vietnam today. Her analysis will focus on labor-management-state relations, especially with key foreign investors/managers (such as from Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) and ethnic Chinese born and raised in Vietnam. She will convey the voices and ideas of workers, organizers, journalists, and officials and explain how migrant workers seek to empower themselves using cultural resources and appeals to state media and the rule of law. Copies of her book will be available for sale at her talk.
Prof. Trần's current research on global south-south labor migration focuses on Vietnamese migrants working in Malaysia and returning to Vietnam. In 2008 she was a Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Distinguished Fellow on Southeast Asia. Her co-authored 2012 book, Corporate Social Responsibility and Competitiveness for SMEs in Developing Countries: South Africa and Vietnam, compared the experiences of small-and-medium enterprises in these two countries. Her many other writings include (as co-editor and author) Reaching for the Dream: Challenges of Sustainable Development in Vietnam (2004). She earned her PhD in Political Economy and Public Policy at the University of Southern California in 1996 and an MA in Developmental Economics at USC in 1991.
Copies of Ties that Bind: Cultural Identity, Class, and Law in Vietnam's Labor Resistance will be available for signing and sale by the author following her talk.