Cross-Border Categories: Ethnic Chinese and the Sino-Vietnamese Border at Mong Cai

  • Christopher Hutton


People on borders, and people who cross borders, people who live on boats, and people who are nomadic may be especially difficult to classify. They are not tied to a particular territory, and do not fit the agrarian model of identity that underlies both much of Western theorizing (ethnic group plus language plus homeland) and nationalist ideologies based on peasant culture. They represent the remnants of pre-modern identities in the sense that the people concerned do not have to have a clear answer to questions such as “What is your mother-tongue?” or “What is your ethnicity?” The questions asked by the ethnographer or linguist symbolize the approaching centralizing-categorization process of the state.


Special Force Illegal Immigrant Detention Centre South China Morning Vietnamese Government 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore 2000

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  • Christopher Hutton

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