Michela Cerimele is research fellow in History and Institutions of South East Asia at the Department of Social Science and Humanities of the Univeristy of Naples ‘L’Orientale’. Her recent research has focused on labor patterns and transformations under FDI-led industrialization in Southeast Asia, with special reference to Vietnam. She particpated in SEATIDE and several other EU funded research projects dealing with labour in Vietnam. She was Secretary of the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (2007-10). She graduated in Political Sciences from ‘L’Orientale’, Naples, where she also obtained her PhD in Geography of Development; she earned her MSc in Development Studies at SOAS, London.

Summary of Project:

Since the 1990s Vietnam has increasingly relied on an export-oriented industrial development strategy largely dependent on FDI. This strategy led to the creation of industrial parks aiming to attract FDI in labour-intensive productions in garment, footwear, food processing, and, in recent years, electronics. Previous research has revealed two main features of this strategy. First, while the industrial parks contributed to generate employment for rural redundant labour, they did not support a sustainable structural transition towards an industrial society. Second, while the FDI-led industrialization occurred with modalities that were intrinsically inimical to labour, space for contestation (such as strikes) remained much more significant than in other countries of the region.

The research project will aim at reconstructing the recent history of the Vietnamese FDI-led industrialization building upon the micro-histories of a selected number of industrial parks. The focus will be on the processes and policies that led to their establishment, their evolution over time, employment patterns, working conditions, and industrial disputes. The research will be based on the review of literature, primary data, and interviews with key informants.