Arve Hansen is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Development and the Environment at the University of Oslo. A development geographer by training, he is studying contemporary development in the ‘socialist market economies’ of Asia, particularly Vietnam. His main research interests relate to changing patterns of consumption in the multi-scalar processes of rapid economic development, approached and understood through both everyday practices and systems of provision. He is currently working on different aspects of food in Asia, with a particular interest in meat consumption in Vietnam and its links to larger processes of economic development in the socialist market economy.

Summary of Project:

Capitalism, agriculture and the socialist market economy: A multi-scalar analysis of the Vietnamese livestock sector


The project will focus on the government initiatives to scale up and mechanise agriculture in Vietnam through attracting domestic and international capital. The main focus will be on meat and livestock, a sector that has received surprisingly little scholarly attention in the literature on development in Vietnam given that its growth since doi moi has been massive. This study is a combination of research on meat consumption and ‘meatification’ of food provisioning and practice in Vietnam as well as my work on the emerging Asian ‘meat complex’.

Overall, the changes in agricultural policies in Vietnam are very interesting, as they meet some fundamental ideological challenges. This concerns particularly land issues, as corporate large-scale farming in a country where the farming sector consists mainly of smallholders requires private land accumulation, causing worries that Vietnam could return to a situation of unequal land distribution not seen since pre-socialist times. This in turn raises new questions of what the so-called “socialist market economy” really is, which in turn links to the most macro-level analysis. The project will be looking at Vietnam’s development model and variety of capitalism, or previously referred to as ‘state capitalism with a Leninist orientation’.

The project draws on ethnographically inspired qualitative methods, using both interviews and observation.