Revitalizing the City: Socialist Architecture, Postwar Memory, and Urban Renewal in Vietnam


ACLS Fellowship Program




The project explores urban architecture as a site for managing tensions between remembrance and forgetting, mobility and immobility, and dwelling and displacement in Vinh, a model socialist city in central Vietnam now being remade into a regional center of capitalist trade and commerce. Following its total destruction by US bombing during the war, Vinh was redesigned and rebuilt with East German aid, technology, and urban planning expertise. Through ethnographic and historical research, this study chronicles the postwar reconstruction of Vinh, and its recent transformation from a symbol of global socialist modernity to one of privatization and “sustainable development.” It highlights new forms of civic engagement among impoverished city residents who advocate recognition of their East German-built housing as “heritage” to be restored, rather than “ruins” to be demolished.