Making Class and Gender: (Market) Socialist Enframing of Traders in Ho Chi Minh City



ABSTRACT  Over the past four decades, petty traders in Bến Thành market (Ho Chi Minh City) and Vietnamese officials have experienced and propelled rapid economic, political, and social transformations entailing reconfigurations of class and gender. Exploring the co-construction of class and gender through state and individual narratives and performances, I here make three contributions to anthropological scholarship on socialism and late, post-, and market socialism. First, I highlight the importance of associative gendered logics to government efforts to deploy new, morally compelling notions of class. Second, I demonstrate that socialist constructions of gender and class are not simply imposed on resistant subjects but also internalized as meaningful structures of sentiment, even among those otherwise ambivalent toward state authority. Third, I reveal that state socialist logics provide fertile ground for those enframed to exercise strategic essentialism (Spivak 1995) that affords symbolic or material advantage, even as it might also reproduce marginality.