Speaker: Nhu Troung, an PhD Candidate n Comparative Politcs and International Relations.
Title: Law and Responsiveness to Land and Development Conflicts in Vietnam
Moderator: Liu Lin, Associate Dean in the Institute of Governance, Shandong University.
Host: Institute of Governance and School of Political Science and Public Administration, Shandong University.
Date and place: May 7th 18:30-20:30, Zhensheng Courtyard E101.
Bio of Speaker:
Nhu Truong is PhD Candidate in Comparative Politics and International Relations at the Department of Political Science of McGill University. She received her M.P.A with specialization in International Policy and Development from Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University, and her M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research addresses theoretical questions on regime responsiveness and performance, political institutionalization, the politics of law and legal institutions, and political legitimation, with a regional focus on Southeast Asia and East Asia. With a comparative focus on China and Vietnam, her current research aims to explain the variation across and within cases with regards to their approach to governance by law in response to land and development conflicts in the respective countries. She previously worked on various policy research and international development projects, namely on decentralization in Cambodia with the Asia Foundation, on China-U.S. Strategic Trust-Building Initiative with the EastWest Institute in New York, as well as on environmental issues with the Environmental Development Action in the Third World in Vietnam.
Despite scholarly interests in how regimes respond to social pressures, the field is in a state of conceptual disarray populated by incongruent definitions and measurements. To address this shortcoming, I propose a conceptual framework that differentiates between reactive responsiveness and institutionalized responsiveness. Through this conceptual lens, I will analyze responses taken by the Vietnamese party-state to disruptive incidents and everyday politics of resistance to compulsory land requisitions during 2003 to 2013. At the grassroots level, reactive responsiveness is strictly circumscribed around the government’s tactical management of citizen resistance in tandem with repression. I further trace the receptivity of the central government to the resounding signal of social unrest, the process, and the legislative revisions undertaken by the Vietnamese National Assembly in 2013 to tighten the lawful scope for local discretion and compulsory land acquisitions. Through this analysis, I show that reactive and ad hoc responsiveness, like emergency extinguishers in a fire, may expunge specific incidents. Absent more substantive, systematic institutionalized responses, reactive and ad hoc measures however do not address the underlying causes of social instability, and fall short from actually representing societal interests.