Category Archives: History

Saigon

Note: I’ve been writing these as I go, but I was actually in Saigon August 3rd-5th…no laptop with me and only intermittent internet access.

I had breakfast in Hanoi – sticky rice with dried squid from the old lady who sets up shop outside my former apartment – and lunch in Saigon.  Continue reading

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Filed under History, Life in Vietnam, On Human Connections, Travel

The chicken in the popular imagination

Chickens at Green Vietnam

I was perplexed by a friend’s seemingly irrational hatred of chickens.  His explanation weaved itself through an afternoon of conversation.

Over coffee and hash browns (with nary a chicken in sight), the conversation turned to writing.  I’m going to write a post about chickens, I said.  He laughed and said something about absurd blog topics, which sounded distinctly like a challenge.  So, chicken thoughts. Continue reading

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Filed under Food and Cooking, History, Life in Vietnam, On Agriculture & the Environment, On Human Connections, Politicking

So what you’re saying is, you study the history of…cheese…?

I often struggle to explain what it is I study.  Most terms don’t capture it adequately, it being something rather interdisciplinary, thematic, and transnational.  Cheese, I tell people, if I want to get a smirk out of them.  Labour, agriculture, and the natural world, if I want to be a little more accurate.  The industrialization of the Ontario dairy industry, if I want to sound obnoxious.  Capitalism and the exploitation of nature and people, if I want to sound incendiary. Continue reading

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Filed under Academia, History, On Agriculture & the Environment

Rats

The rain is upon us, day two of three, I’m told.  Parts of the city will probably flood, the sewers groaning until they throw up their hands in defeat at the sheer weight of all this water.  The first sign was probably the rats, who have been unusually active over the past few days.  I should take out my garbage before they all escape for the cozy refuge of my second-floor apartment. Continue reading

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Filed under History, Life in Vietnam

This is what I do to procrastinate (part 1)….

Work continues on the biotech article, and as is usually the case with research, the more I learn, the more I realize the people and their stories descend into a twisted myriad of connections I can’t possibly hope to capture in systematically-ordered prose.  So instead of writing my article I am thinking about theories of historical change.  Is change dialectical in nature, meaning when an initial state (whether it be abstract, as Hegel suggested, or a particular mode of production, as did Marx) is met with an alternative, their inconsistencies force a new synthesis, a new state of being?  Perhaps, but right now it seems too simplistic and, especially in the case of biotechnology, ignores the role of non-human nature.

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Filed under History, Life in Vietnam, On Agriculture & the Environment, Politicking