Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us Latest news Events PhD ceremonies

Fishing for politics?

civil society activism and environmental politicisation in Vietnam
PhD ceremony:T. (Thai) Nguyen van Quoc, MSc
When:September 28, 2023
Supervisor:R.L. (Ronald) Holzhacker, Prof
Co-supervisors:E.M. (Elen-Maarja) Trell-Zuidema, Dr, E. (Ethemcan) Turhan, Dr
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Spatial Sciences
Fishing for politics?

In Southeast Asia, a region marked with a strong legacy of authoritarian regimes, scholars have focused on struggles of environmentalism in either illiberal democracies or communist states like Vietnam. In Vietnam and China, formal NGOs as well as grassroots activists need to overcome restrictions from the central government. Such a context would hamper any confrontational tactics of civil society actors and, thus, require a more discreet modus operandi from activists, working through personal and institutionalised networks. However, recent literature has suggested moving beyond this ‘first-generation’ discreet approach to civil society under authoritarianism, advocating for understanding of the wider opportunities and difficulties posed by new methods and technologies to challenge the status quo and advocate for change.This dissertation highlights how environmental politicisation under political oppression can be unearthed in a way that is helpful for a more nuanced understanding of contemporary activism in Vietnam and beyond. I drew empirical insights from cases of environmental activism to reveal the complexity and multiple dimensions within the broad umbrella of 'civil society activism in Vietnam', where a lack of explicit and public activism is assumed to be the political norm. Overall, this dissertation provides a critical reflection on environmental politicisation in authoritarian contexts. It seeks to understand environmental politicisation at the intersection of social movements, spatial planning, and political ecology. In doing so, it investigates the complex conditions that makes (environmental) activism possible under authoritarianism.