The Montagnards and Sustainable Cultural Tourism in Viet Nam

Carla Nayton,
Dr Jocelyn Anne Grace
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Viet Nam’s mountain-dwelling ethnic minority groups, or Montagnards, have lived within remote, largely autonomous communities since their historical migration from bordering homeland nations. In recent years, the Vietnamese State has implemented specific minority policies that have served to constrain the realisation of both individual and collective Montagnard expressions of ethnicity. In today’s rapidly globalizing Viet Nam, open to market forces and foreign investment, ethnic minorities face new dilemmas in safeguarding their unique cultures for future generations. Within the context of the national imperative to ‘modernise’ and to embrace the market economy, a cultural tourism industry has emerged which, ironically has made the preservation of some aspects of minority cultures also a State imperative.

For the Montagnard, cultural tourism is a double-edged sword – while delivering much-needed cash income, and a seeming respect for their cultures, at the same time the exposure it brings threatens to destroy the very object of the tourists’ gaze. Outside influences, and government policies, threaten to create museums and gift-shops out of living cultures.

This paper explores the impact of government policy and tourism on Montagnard groups, and asks what is needed to develop cultural tourism industry that is economically viable, while still culturally acceptable and sustainable for the Montagnards themselves.

Keywords: Montagnards, Cultural Preservation, Sustainable Cultural Tourism, Viet Nam
Stream: Cultural Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Montagnards and Sustainable Cultural Tourism in Viet Nam, The

Carla Nayton

Honours Student, Discipline of Anthropology, University of Western Australia

Ms Nayton is a student who has just completed an honours thesis on the Montagnards of Viet Nam. She has travelled to the mountain regions of Viet Nam, and is planning to return to Viet Nam in the New Year to explore opportunities for research and/or employment.

Dr Jocelyn Anne Grace

Lecturer, Discipline of Anthropology, School of Social and Cultural Research, University of Western Australia

Dr Jocelyn Grace is an anthropologist with twenty years experience carrying out research and working with Indigenous people in Australia, Indonesia and East Timor. Her doctoral research was on infant and maternal mortality in East Lombok in Indonesia. Jocelyn has taught in a range of subjects in Anthropology and Asian Studies over the past twenty year, and since 1992 has worked as a consultant designing and evaluating development projects in Indonesia, East Timor and Australia. Over the past seven years Jocelyn has managed Native Title research, conducted research on HIV/AIDS in Viet Nam, and on tuberculosis (TB) in a remote Aboriginal community in Northern Australia. She is currently on contract to the University of Western Australia where she has been teaching popular culture in Asia, and applied and medical anthropology.

Ref: S06P0427