In the late 1990s, a marketplace trader in Hồ Chí Minh City reported being plagued by wandering ghosts. The postwar Vietnamese landscape teems with angry spirits who died violently without descendents to honor them, but the trader's wandering ghosts were living: male market officials who demanded that merchants, most of them women, pay a fee for use rights to their stalls. Examining the conflict that ensued, this article argues that the wandering ghosts metaphor aptly captures the bitter struggles over resources and status that have accompanied late socialist economic reforms. More subtly, the metaphor also alludes to lingering wartime animosities. Market officials supported the victors, whereas many traders sided with the losers. Although daily interactions have intersubjectively reworked these tensions so that they seem instead to reflect gender differences, “ghosts” inevitably emerge: odd fragments of memory that wander homeless in the wake of social and individual efforts to render the past coherent.

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