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Current Fieldwork Practice


Urbanism, Space and People in Hanoi - Summer School 2023 in Vietnam with Field Research Practice

The 21st century is also referred to as the “Asian urban century”. By 2030, more than half of Asia's population will live in cities. Already since the turn of the millennium, for the first time, more people worldwide live in cities than in rural areas, most of them in cities of the Global South. For this reason, urban research in general and urban anthropology in particular have received increased attention in social sciences and humanities in recent years. In particular, urbanization processes in the Global South are increasingly the focus of interest.

The material and social infrastructures of these urban spaces reflect the economic and social changes initiated in particular by the global neoliberal developments of the last decades. At the same time, cities in the Global South are shaped by the power relations of colonialism and post-colonialism. Against this backdrop, urban studies have increasingly called for a "Southern perspective on urban studies" (Patel 2014), as these power relations are also reflected in theorizing at the epistemological level. Theories in urban research continue to show a bias toward northern cities. It is necessary to address this imbalance through research in cities of the Global South together with scholars of the Global South.

Together with the Department for Urban History of the University for Social Sciences and Humanities of the Vietnam National University in Hanoi (USSH-VNU) we would like to explore Hanoi as an example of a dynamic, fast-growing Asian city. This cooperation will give participants the chance to critically engage with urban studies in the Global South in an interdisciplinary setting.

Participation in this field research practice offers the chance not only to play a part in an exciting exchange between researchers but also make use of ethnographic methods, collect ethnographic data, and prepare for your master thesis.


Modul EM1 "Field Research Practice" consists of:

The field research practice started with a practical exercise (Praktische Übung) as a preparation for the summer school. Participation in the course was mandatory for students who wanted to partake in the summer school. The course offered a basic understanding of Vietnamese history and society as a background for engaging in research in Vietnam. Throughout the course topics such as intercultural communication, critically reflecting power-relations and dealing with emotional challenges during field work have been addressed.


Academic program in Hanoi started on Monday, 18.9.2023. From Monday through Friday of this week, workshops and lectures about urbanism in Hanoi took place in the mornings, led by researchers from USSH and UoC. In the afternoons there have been excursions to places in the city to explore the content of the workshops and lectures in depth.

Evenings and the weekend have been free and could have been used for self-planned leisure activities, such as tourist excursions.

From Monday through Thursday of the second week, participants had time to pursue their own research based on their research questions developed during the first week. On Friday ther was a meeting for a closing workshop and exchange about our experiences.

The return flight took place on Saturday, 30. September 2023.


With kind support by Cologne Summer Schools and the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, the program has covered costs for a return flight from Frankfurt to Hanoi, accommodation in Hanoi in twin-rooms or shared apartments and the academic program in Hanoi (lectures and workshops, transport during study trips).

Participants had to cover their expenses for meals and local transport outside of study trips, as well as the visa fee. Please note that this was the students' own responsibility to take out appropriate travel medical insurance.

More information on how to prepare for the stay in Hanoi has been provided during the practical exercise (Praktische Übung) in the summer term.

The module will continue with a practical exercise as follow-up to the Summer School in Hanoi and conclude with a module examination in form of a written report.




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