Climate Disaster, Crisis, and Gendered Precariousness: Tempo-Spatial Ramifications of Typhoons in Vietnam by Prof Helle Rydstrom
Date : 16 Jan 2018
Time : 16:00 - 17:30
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC


Prof Jonathan Rigg, Asia Research Institute, and Department of Geography, National University of Singapore


Climate changes are predicted to negatively affect billions of people, not least in the Asia-Pacific region which is prone to water related disasters (ADB 2013; UNDP 2017). In the fall of 2013, the central coastal areas of Vietnam were thus hit by typhoons Wutip (Bão số 10) and Nari (Bão số 11) both of which caused huge material and social damage (Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Nov. 12, 2013). The impacts of the Anthropocene are uneven as socially vulnerable groups are particularly susceptible to the negative ramifications of a catastrophe (e.g. Crutzen 2000; Galaz 2017; Ogden 2015; Oliver-Smith 1996; Scott 1977; Steffen 2007; Wisner 2003). However, it is only recently that the inherently gendered dimension of the Anthropocene has caught scholarly attention (e.g. Bradshaw 2013; Enarson and Pease 2016; Enarson and Chakrabarti 2009; First 2017; Giang P.N. 2014; Ginige 2014; Minh H.V. 2014; True 2013). Drawing on ethnographic data collected in the aftermath of typhoons Wutip and Nari, this paper analyzes the entanglements between climate disaster, gendered precariousness, and crisis. A catastrophe brings destruction and harm but should not be conflated with societal antecedents such as gendered hierarchies, privileges, powers, and violences. When a crisis of emergency due to a climate disaster interlocks with socio-economic and political antecedents, a secondary long-term gender specific crisis might be ignited in the household and beyond. Rather than conditioning a new beginning, a catharsis, a catastrophe thus might fuel and exacerbate gendered inequalities which were already in place prior to the cataclysmic event. For particularly vulnerable groups such as women of limited economic resources, a crisis of emergency caused by a climate catastrophe thus transmutes from a temporarily bracketing of “normal life” into a crisis of chronicity (Stoler 2013; Vigh 2009; Walby 2015).


Helle Rydstrom is Professor in the Department of Gender Studies at Lund University, Sweden. Her research focuses on the anthropology of gender in Asia and she has been in charge of a large number of funded research projects on Vietnam and Vietnam in comparison with other countries such as India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Rydstrom has conducted long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Vietnam to study gender, violence, war, masculinity, socialization, morality, and education about which she has published extensively. Some recent publications include “A Zone of Exception: Gendered Violences of Family ‘Happiness’ in Vietnam”, Gender, Place, and Culture, vol. 24(7):1051-1070, 2017; “Vietnam Women’s Union and the Politics of Representation: A Narrative of Hegemonic Solidarity”, 209-234, in Gendered Citizenship and the Politics of Representation (eds. H. Danielsen, Palgrave McMillan, 2016; “Politics of Colonial Violence: Gendered Atrocities in French Occupied Vietnam”, European Journal of Women’s Studies, vol. 2(22): 191-207, 2015; “Gendered Corporeality and Bare Lives: Sacrifices and Sufferings during the Vietnam War”, Signs, vol. 37(2): 275-301, 2012; and with Paul Horton, “Heterosexual Masculinity in Contemporary Vietnam: Privileges, Pleasures, and Protests”, Men and Masculinities, vol. 14(5): 542-564, 2011. Rydstrom is engaged in scholarly exchange between Sweden and Asia, especially with India and Vietnam and is thus one of the coordinators of the Nordic Southeast Asia Studies Network and is on the Advisory Board of the Swedish South Asian Studies Network (SASNET). Rydstrom is the coordinator of the interdisciplinary Advanced Study Group on CRISIS funded by the Pufendorf Institute.


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Contact Person(s)
Minghua TAY