Pham Quynh Phuong is an anthropologist who graduated from La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia) with Ph.D. thesis entitled Hero and Deity: Empowerment and Contestation in the Veneration of Tran Hung Dao in Contemporary Vietnam. She teaches graduate students and supervises M.A. and Ph.D. thesis. Her research interest is on the relationship between state and society in contemporary Vietnam, how the socialist state exercise its power through discourse, and how the ordinary people, with their agency, find their own ways to practice everyday culture and produce everyday politics that might not be in the same language of the state. Her recent research projects include the religious transformation in Central Highlands of Vietnam; and the rise of LGBT movements in Vietnam.
Negotiating with the State: State-society relations and the rise of the LGBT movement in Vietnam
Over the past decade, Vietnamese society has witnessed the emergence of a vibrant LGBT movement, which has been instrumental in changing social perceptions of sexual diversity, as well as in gaining official recognition of LGBT rights. The state has lifted the ban on gay marriage and has allowed sex reassignment surgery. On the diplomatic front, the Vietnamese government in 2014 and 2016 voted in favor of UN resolutions on anti-discrimination against LGBT persons. The Communist party-state of Vietnam, which is often labeled as a serious human rights violator, has thus emerged as one of the most progressive countries in Southeast Asia on LGBT issues. This research project explores the underlying dynamics that caused this shift in official attitudes towards LGBT issues. In particular it highlights the central role played by Vietnamese LGBT activists, and offers an analysis of their strategies for gaining access to and persuading state actors. It also seeks to understand the state’s responses to this social movement. This research project will shed important new light on the nature of state-society relations in Vietnam, and on the pragmatic nature of the Vietnamese state as it negotiates new challenges to the legitimacy of its policies and practices.