After Doi Moi: Representing national narratives and party achievements in post-socialist Vietnam
In this presentation, I examine James C Scott’s (1990) idea of ‘hidden transcripts’ -- discourse that takes place off-stage and is performed beyond the observation of power brokers – in the context of exhibitionary practice in Vietnam. Taking my involvement in the production of ‘Doi Moi: Journey of Dreams’, a major temporary exhibition celebrating 30 years of economic reform in the Vietnamese National Museum of History that opened in September 2016, I will explore the tensions that exist between on the one hand, top-down official histories which are scripted through government policies, departments and bureaucrats; and on the other, the integration of personal and vernacular memory into the exhibition space, a process which seeks to create a common ground to re-author a reading of the past. How memory and history come into play in the Vietnam context will be a focal point of my talk as a means to provide an anthropologically informed understanding of the role of state institutions in re-shaping national narratives.
Graeme Were is Associate Professor in Anthropology and Museum Studies and convenes the Museum Studies postgraduate programme in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland. He has held positions at University College London, Goldsmiths College London, and the British Museum and joined UQ in 2011. His research interests include museum anthropology, digital heritage and material culture studies and he has a regional specialism in Papua New Guinea. His recent work includes Lines that connect: rethinking pattern and mind in the Pacific (University of Hawai'i Press, 2010) and (co-edited with J.C.H. King) Extreme collecting (Berghahn, 2012). He presented the prestigious 2011 Curl Lecture at the British Museum awarded by the Royal Anthropological Institute, and in 2012, he received a UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award for his work on digital heritage and knowledge networks in Melanesia. He serves on the Australian government's National Cultural Heritage Committee.