Dog Meat Politics: Masculinity and Power in a Vietnamese Town
Israel Institute Visiting Professor Nir Avieli, Program in Modern Hebrew will give a Carol Rifelj Faculty Lecture.
There were only a couple of semi-clandestine dog-meat restaurants in the town of Hoi An in Central Vietnam in 1999. In 2004 there were dozens, serving mostly male members of the newly emerging Hoianese middle class. In this article, based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Hoi An since 1998, I follow the sudden popularity of dog meat in town and discuss its meanings. While gender, class distinctions, religious dispositions and modernization shape the local attitudes toward this new culinary trend, I suggest that the overarching theme that explains the sudden proliferation of dog-meat restaurants in Hoi An is political and has to do with the diners’ propensity towards the regime: eating dog meat in Hoi An expresses political allegiance, while avoiding it articulates critique and disdain. The discussion is focused on the ways in which Hoianese masculinity is structured and negotiated in between modern and traditional forms of proper manhood.
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