The dollarization of Vietnamese ghost money


University of Edinburgh, Adam Ferguson Building, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LL, UK.


Offering money to gods, ancestors, and ghosts is an increasingly important part of everyday life in Vietnam. When it concerns the traces of a violent war, this custom is believed to help the spirits of the dead become liberated from their grievous histories. This article discusses the role of money in death commemoration, focusing on how money-offering takes on different meanings between gods and ancestors, on the one hand, and displaced, grievous ghosts, on the other. Based on this discussion, the article will explore the current situation where replica US dollar notes have become a pre-eminent ritual currency in parts of Vietnam and how this situation is related to changing political relations in the imagined world of the dead.