Currencies of Imagination: Channeling Money and Chasing Mobility in Vietnam

Currencies of Imagination: Channeling Money and Chasing Mobility in Vietnam

by Ivan V. Small


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In Vietnam, international remittances from the Vietnamese diaspora are quantitatively significant and contribute important economic inputs. Yet beyond capital transfer, these diasporic remittance economies offer insight into an unfolding transformation of Vietnamese society through the extension of imaginations and ontological possibilities that accompany them. Currencies of Imagination examines the complex role of remittances as money and as gifts that flow across, and mediate between, transnational kinship networks dispersed by exile and migration.

Long distance international gift exchanges and channels in a neoliberal political economy juxtapose the increasing cross-border mobility of remittance financial flows against the relative confines of state bounded bodies. In this contradiction Ivan V. Small reveals a creative space for emergent imaginaries that disrupt local structures and scales of desire, labor and expectation. Furthermore, the particular characteristics of remittance channels and mediums in a global economy, including transnational mobility and exchangeable value, affect and reflect the relations, aspirations, and orientations of the exchange participants. Small traces a genealogy of how this phenomenon has shifted through changing remittance forms and transfer infrastructures, from material and black market to formal bank and money services. Transformations in the affective and institutional relations among givers, receivers, and remittance facilitators accompany each of these shifts, illustrating that the socio-cultural work of remittances extends far beyond the formal economic realm they are usually consigned to.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501716881
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 01/15/2019
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Ivan V. Small is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at Central Connecticut State University. He is co-editor of Money at the Margins.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Money, Gifts, and Flows
1. The "Dangerous" Gift
2. Sà i Gò n, Overlaid by H Chí Minh: Capitalist Desires and Deferrals
3. Coastal Flows and Hypothetical Horizons
4. The Beautiful, Tired Country
5. Crossing the Bridge... Home?
Conclusion: Not Yet Enough: Mobility and Its Malcontents

What People are Saying About This

Ann Marie Leshkowich

"In this absorbing and vivid account of Vietnamese remittance economies, Ivan Small demonstrates the ongoing relevance of attention to the circulation of things as profoundly social and imaginative projects."

Erik Harms

"Currencies of Imaginationbuilds from multi-sited fieldwork in Vietnam and the US and paints a vivid picture of the social worlds influenced by transnational remittances. Ivan Small shows that remittances are a way of sending gratitude, of establishing and maintaining social bonds. Money is infused with morality and nostalgia, and the technologies of sending and receiving money navigate state regulations and social demands."

Ken MacLean

"Ivan Small’s book is a very exciting contribution to a topic of major significance in Vietnam, that of remittances. Small shows that the way in which money is sent back to Vietnam from California transforms social interactions as well as the social significance of money."

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