This study explores the barriers faced by white shrimp farmers in Vietnam in linking directly with food processing companies. The shrimp sector in Vietnam is still characterised by highly informal structures, weak implementation of food safety regulations and a lack of expertise among farmers to comply with international standards. The Vietnamese government anticipates modernising shrimp production and enabling farmers to achieve the quality standards of international retailers. While international food processing companies have established locations in Vietnam to serve international markets, farmers often lack the resources and expertise to comply with their requirements. The main challenges are related to infrastructure for transport and payment transfers, risk management and overcoming established production routines which are mostly based on tacit knowledge and experience. Hence, efforts are needed to improve infrastructures, establish risk management tools for farmers and promote successful cases which can act as guiding examples for adapting white shrimp production.
The Tibetans who live among the valleys and mountains of the Jinsha River region, on the southeastern edge of the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau, still retain a considerable number of polygamous marriages. Through fieldwork in a Tibetan village, the authors discovered that polygamous marriage is a rational choice compatible with Tibetans’ traditional culture and natural environment, which can improve family well-being and lead to a good life. Our findings provide new fieldwork materials to support theories of cultural relativism advocated by the Boas school, which emphasises that the environment greatly affects culture, and Malinowski’s functionalism, which stresses that culture has been created to satisfy people’s practical needs.
This article explores the question of ‘a good life’ through a daily-life perspective. It focuses on a case regarding the abolition of infanticide, through which the relations and interactions between the socialist state and ethnic minorities of southwest China are examined. By elaborating how an Akha custom (infanticide) that guarantees communal goodness/purity was abolished, the research reveals three competing or collaborating notions of ‘good life’, where the Akha’s cosmological ‘good life’ is partly reformed to obey state law and to meet its members’ personal desires. This is an unusual case in that the ethnic cultural authorities from a small, politically marginalised, frontier-dwelling and egalitarian group in southwest China do not ‘resist’ or ‘collaborate with’ the state in the expected way. Instead, they draw on state power to oppose their own customs. With such a unique case, the research helps to diversify our understandings of state–society relations in southwest China.
Lowland rice cultivation is changing in southern Laos. A formalised survey and informal interviews in the lowlands of Savannakhet Province indicate that while some farmers still raise water buffaloes, farmers now mainly use hand-held mechanised ploughs to till their fields. More chemical fertilisers are being used, and improved seed varieties have become dominant, with native varieties disappearing. Due to these changes, rice yields have increased substantially, with many more farmers selling surplus rice. The trade-offs are, however, not simple. Through applying the lens of risk perception, this article presents data about how lowland rice farming—the main occupation for rural people in Savannakhet Province—has changed over the last twenty years, critically assessing how farmers perceive and act upon risk during this time of rapid agrarian change.
This chapter compares two area studies teaching programs: Taiwan Studies at SOAS, University of London; and Korean Studies at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). In both cases, humanities, linguistics and social sciences have been well integrated into their programs. The SOAS Taiwan program has largely had a social sciences and humanities focus, with languages receiving less attention. In contrast, the UCLan Korean program began with language components and later expanded to include social sciences modules. The SOAS Taiwan Studies program initially concentrated on postgraduate teaching before, but later on it began to offer more undergraduate classes. The UCLan Korean Studies program has the largest BA program in the UK, and began to offer its MA program in North Korean Studies recently. The SOAS Taiwan Studies program has operated for over two decades in the UK already, while UCLan Korean Studies began about seven years ago. Both teaching programs are well integrated with their research center and institute - the Centre of Taiwan Studies at SOAS and the International Institute of Korean Studies at UCLan. This chapter also discusses some challenges they face, such as securing external funding and scholarship opportunities. In order to achieve enhanced teaching and research environments for both students and academics, both universities will need to develop strong engagement with relevant funders and innovative strategies.