Saigon, Inside Out
This introductory chapter focuses on Hóc Môn, a district that lies along a key transport corridor on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City. It describes how national tropes and cultural stereotypes about rural–urban relations persists in places like Hóc Môn despite the constant disruptions of an everyday existence that seems to depart so dramatically from the ideal. It discusses the idealization of the Vietnamese peasant as the source of Vietnamese tradition, which became further reified during the Vietnam War. It shows the ways in which the ideal categories of Vietnamese culture are simultaneously contradicted and reinforced through everyday social life. It attempts to understand the intersection of space, time, and power and the interplay between cultural ideals and everyday practices of most Hóc Môn residents.
Keywords: Hóc Môn, Ho Chi Minh City, urban relations, Vietnamese tradition, Vietnam War, Vietnamese culture, social life