Exploring Vietnamese Sensescapes of Home: Neolocality, Kinship, Cosmopolitanism

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Seminar 33 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Catherine EARL, Deakin University, Australia
This paper explores the sensescapes of home experienced by second generation urban migrants in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, a location which has been a magnet for migrants seeking opportunities for better education and employment for decades. While many migrants arrive and leave in seasonal flows, others settle permanently in the developing mega-urban region where they can attain higher education and pursue a profession that enables their upward social mobility. This first generation experience a transformation from a village way of life to a metropolitan mode of living as they establish a home in the city and learn new ways to live and experience the sensorium of home. The second generation, their children, are city born and raised so the metropolitan smells, tastes and touch-textures are the familiar sensory qualities of their neolocal home. However, as part of extended family networks, they also experience the alien smells, tastes and touch-textures of their parents’ village-homes where their extended kin reside. This paper draws on anthropological fieldwork carried out in Vietnam since 2000 to explore the sensoria of homes experienced by three young sisters, aged under 8 years old. They are being raised in a small middle-class dwelling in a residential laneway in the city’s congested northern suburbs to a father, a middle manager, originally from a central coast village, where daily life centres on the beach and the orchard, and a mother, an office administrator, originally from a central Mekong Delta village, where daily life revolves around rice farming and lay Buddhism. Through examples of the girls’ experiences of the contrasting sensescapes of these three homes (neolocal, ni, and ngòai), the paper demonstrates the production and consumption of actual and imagined materialities of home shape a grounded cosmopolitanism that characterizes second generation urban migrant experience.