Cecilia Bergstedt, (2016) Cultivating Gender: Meanings of Place and Work in Rural Vietnam. Copenhagen, Denmark: NIAS Press. 228 pages. ISBN 9788776941796.Anthropologist Cecilia Bergstedt proposes a monograph on gendering processes in a village located in northern Vietnam (Phu Tho Province). Based on her doctoral dissertation, this book begins with a Vietnamese proverb that describes the gender-based division of farm labour: “the husband ploughs, the wife transplants, the buffalo harrows” (p. 1). Using proverb to illustrate social practices involves two major risks. One, to essentialise or reify cultural expressions, and, two, to reduce the complexity of the social practices to people’s remarks. But the author successfully avoided both pitfalls by distinguishing and then putting into perspective the discourses and the practices of social actors.One of the book’s strong points lies in the combination of a phenomenological approach and a structural perspective to explore how female and male farmers shaped and constituted themselves as gendered dwellers through their work on farmland and residential land. The main argument of the book is that the daily routines of residential and arable land practices orient the bodies of the farmers toward places and activities in gender-specific ways, so that “gender becomes naturalised through the integration of
Asian Journal of Social Science – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2017
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