This landmark report represents the first academic research exploring the media discourse associated with the Red River urban zoning planning in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, a 1,000-year-old city in the north of the country with a rich history that has witnessed dynamic economic growth in the past two decades.
Whilst Vietnam’s re-engagement in the global capitalist economy since 1986's Doi Moi policy has brought millions of people out of poverty, it has impacted upon the State’s complex relationships with capital and natural resources. For hundreds of years, the Red River was a place and more than that, a social space where dwellers across rural-urban divides make their living and call it home. The river is also described as the cradle of cultural identity practices for its populations.
The riverine urban planning of Hanoi for the past 30 years has been the domain for the State to incorporate and regulate the riverscape. These planning projects constitute parts of State attempts to regulate and manage the river, a socio-natural space, for interests at State level, a particular geographic, regulatory and political position. They are also an embodiment of the conflict between the State-building apparatus for capital development, and the river status as a functioning and vital ecosystem, whose natural cycles (like flooding) are regarded inconvenient and physically dangerous to Hanoi and threatening to the imperatives of the State and capital.
In this report, Vu Ngoc Anh, Pham Quynh Phuong and Le Quang Binh examine the evolving discourses coalescing around the planning of Hanoi’s riverine zone as a capital-intensive economic resource and at the same time, as a sustainable ecosystem that continues to support environmental and economic functions that are critical to river dwellers. The conceptual understanding of discourse, environmental justice and political ecology allows for throwing light onto these discourses and how they are recreating and re-enacting the power/knowledge dynamics that have defined the riverscape and the socio-natural processes underpinning it.
The report is comprised of two parts: the Introduction provides the context for this study by reviewing Hanoi’s urban plans, the role of the Red River in the capital and its relevant development projects. It also proposes the study’s theoretical framework and methodology. The second part will describe research results from analysing the media discourse.
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