To explore the specifics of environment and labor in southern Vietnam, Rubber and the Making of Vietnam adopts a narrative arc that moves from the French colonial empire to the postcolonial Vietnamese nation. This book’s introduction gives an overview of this narrative and discusses key terms such as agency, ecological perspective, and nature. It reviews the relevant local and global histories of rubber and suggests that shifting alignments of science, commerce, and government affected both colonial and postcolonial projects during the twentieth century. With đổi mới, or renovation, of the 1990s, transnational corporations once again became important agents and the plantation form of rubber production remained a solution to the limits imposed by Vietnamese social and natural environments, regardless of the ideological predilections of state leaders.
Keywords: actor-network theory, agency, Alexandre Yersin, Đặng Văn Vinh, ecological perspective, environmental health, hevea brasiliensis, intermediate analytical concept, knowledge production, mid-level actor
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