Planners from the United States and the Republic of Vietnam initially looked to rubber as an important source of income and a way to create Vietnamese smallholders, or individuals who owned modestly sized rubber plots. Chapter 6 considers the attempts to create this class and discusses the fate of rubber plantations in Ngô Đình Diệm’s First Republic of Vietnam, which lasted from 1954 to 1963. It demonstrates the persistence of development ideologies that valued plantations over smallholder production and formal science over informal knowledge and shows the power of modernity during the process of decolonization. This chapter also examines the continuing absence of Vietnamese in the rubber industry. Between 1955 and 1965, rubber benefited from relatively peaceful conditions and Vietnamese smallholders began to take part in more significant numbers in the industry. The costs of production, the arrival of the U.S. military, and the lack of practical support, however, meant that only well-off Vietnamese could benefit from the expanding industry. This selective movement of technology shows the limits of postcolonial development and suggests that the exclusion of most Vietnamese from the industry was a product of both colonial and postcolonial modernity.
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