Through an often seemingly contradictory system of market socialism in Vietnam and specifically within the economic capital of Ho Chi Minh City, how may the ways in which people have been using photography and its practices since Ðổi mới (Renovation) elucidate modes of neoliberalism related to self-management and governmentality that may be at play? This article will explore the shifting idea of beauty and how the Vietnamese state has been using it historically to hegemonize the nation. It will also examine Vietnamese subject formation and subjectivities in the southern urban center through contemporary individual acts of self-fashioning, projects of physical aestheticization and the manufacturing of new individual fates evident in the activity of studio portraiture and its postproduction digital manipulations in photo recovery shops. Some of the ways in which different modes of tactility, touch, and digital processes and technologies are used in conjunction with visual images in complicity and compliance with state agendas as well as in the creation of fluid spaces that may subvert the political and structural constraints that the state has been known to impose on Vietnamese lives will be illuminated.
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Nina Hien; Ho Chi Minh City's Beauty Regime: Haptic Technologies of the Self in the New Millennium. positions 1 May 2012; 20 (2): 473–493. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-1538488
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