Wednesday, January 28, 2015
McKinney Conference Room
This ethnography explores Vietnam's diverse sex industry as the country ascends the global and regional stage. Over the course of five years between 2006-2010 Hoang, worked at four exclusive Saigon hostess bars catering to high-end clientele: wealthy local Vietnamese and Asian businessmen, Viet Kieus (ethnic Vietnamese living abroad), Western businessmen, and Western budget-tourists. Dealing in Desire takes an in-depth and often personal look at both the sex workers and their clients to show how Vietnamese high finance and benevolent giving have become interconnected with the intimate spheres of the informal economy. For the domestic super-elite who use the levers of political power to channel foreign capital into real estate and manufacturing projects, conspicuous consumption is a means for projecting an image of Asian ascendancy to potential investors. ForViet Kieu and Westerners who bring remittances into the local economy, personal relationships with local sex workers bolsters their ideas of Asia’s rise and Western decline, while simultaneously recuperating their lost masculinity. Dealing in Desire illuminates Ho Chi Minh City’s sex industry as not just a microcosm of the global economy, but as a critical space where dreams and deals are traded.