Pholsena, Vatthana
École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO)
Brief bio :
Vatthana Pholsena is a research fellow at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). Currently based in Singapore, she is also the representative for the Institute of Research on Contemporary Southeast Asia (IRASEC), and affiliated with the Department of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore.
Individual Project :

The project of Vatthana Pholsena seeks to investigate the social, economic and political trajectories of populations living on the border in Savannakhet and Sekong Provinces between central-southern Laos and central Vietnam. These regions were highly strategic geographical spaces during wartime and experienced the Lao and Vietnamese revolutionary movement's socialist experimentations. They are now rapidly changing border areas as a result of the expansion of transnational human and economic flows since the early 2000s. In this new context, some people are able to gain access to authority and wealth through their relations with state officials and cross-border networks, while others experience increasing marginalization and poverty. More broadly, how, and to what extent, have the successive periods of socialist orthodoxy and market capitalism impacted on these populations' relationships with the state and amongst themselves? Have they produced new forms of social relationships and economic interactions? To what extent have they created new ethnic hierarchies or strengthened the pre-war social order? This research project does not underestimate the larger regulatory powers of the state, which can be oppressive for some segments of local society but can also constitute rewarding opportunity structures for others. Neither does it want to portray  border regions as zones of infinite negotiation and boundless opportunity. In brief, this project in this frontier region aims to study the dynamics of integration from below.

Successful Viet Businessman Sekong