Thirty years of Doi Moi in the museum: Changing representations of development in late-socialist Vietnam

Graeme Were*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe an exhibition that celebrated 30 years of reform in the Vietnamese National Museum of History, which opened in 2016. It contributes to anthropological understandings of the way exhibitions create new forms of cultural heritage, and so operate as a kind of technology of governance for legitimising state transformations that seek to celebrate neoliberal ideologies and the rise of the individual. Design/methodology/approach: Using an ethnographic methodology, it explores some of the behind-the-scenes decisions involved in producing a narrative of national development since the Doi Moi reforms of 1986. Findings: In analysing how imported memory approaches were innovatively employed alongside conventional historical facts, this paper reveals ways in which old revolutionary narratives make way for expansive and more acceptable concepts of development that embrace well-being and quality of life as well as national achievements. Originality/value: This research is based on original ethnographic research conducted by the author and contributes to an emerging field of museum and heritage studies in East and South-East Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalAsian Education and Development Studies
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2019


  • Cultural heritage
  • Development
  • Museum
  • Vietnam


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