An introduction to social anthropology in a Vietnamese context


This publication is the result of the efforts and contributions of many people and institutions. We would like to extend our thanks to the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) for funding the first phase of the project ‘Strengthening Population and Reproductive Health Research in Vietnam’ (REACH). We are grateful to staff of the Vietnam Commission for Population, Family and Children – particularly Dr. Nguyễn Quốc Anh, Ms. Đào Khánh Hoà and Mr. Thiều Văn Nghinh – for excellent facilitation of project work in Vietnam. This publication would not have come into being without the contributions from the researchers who participated in the project’s two short courses in Hà Nội in the summer of 2002: Trần Ngọc Sinh, Dương Văn Minh, Bùi Kim Chi, Bùi Việt Nga, Đào Quý Mùi, Nguyễn Thị Hoàng Oanh, Nguyễn Ngọc Trung, Nghiêm Thị Thuỷ, Đặng Kim Khánh Ly, Vũ Xuân Đốc, Nguyễn Thị Thanh Hương, Lê Đình Kế, Lê Văn Hân, Trần Văn Bín, Trần Thanh Phong, Nguyễn Việt Hùng, and Trần Quang Lâm. We are particularly grateful to Dr. Dan Meyrowitsch, Nguyễn Thị Thuý Hạnh and Đinh Thị Bích Thuỷ for serving as teacher and co-teachers in the courses and for their valuable contributions to the entire process of research. We  would like to thank Nguyễn Văn Liệu and Nguyễn Mạnh Hiệp for assistance with translations during fieldwork, and Lê Minh Giang, Hoàng Tú Anh and Vũ Song Hà of ‘Consultation for Investment in Health Promotion’ (CIHP) for translating the English version of this publication into Vietnamese. We also extend our thanks to Stig Mogensen for designing the cover of the publication.

In Nghệ An numerous people have participated in and contributed to the research. We would like to thank Mrs. Nguyễn Thị Phúc, Mr. Nguyễn Thanh Hiền and Mr. Đậu Quang Hải from Nghệ An Committee for Population, Family and Children for their interest in and support of the project. We are also grateful to the local authorities and health staff in Quỳnh Lưu for their active involvement in the research. Last but not least, we are indebted to the women and men in Quỳnh Bảng and Quỳnh Xuân communes who told us about their health and lives

Executive Summary

This publication presents reflections and findings from exploratory reproductive health research carried out in two rural communes on Vietnam’s North Central coast in the summer of 2002. The research was conducted as the first stage of research and training activities within the Danish-Vietnamese project ‘Strengthening Population and Reproductive Health Research in Vietnam’. The project is implemented under the ENRECA programme, funded by the Danish International Development Agency (Danida), which aims to strengthen research capacities in developing countries through partnerships between Danish and host-country researchers.

The present publication has a double aim. First, it aims to highlight the ways in which reproductive health research can be conducted with the use of anthropological theories and methods. Anthropology is a new field of study in Vietnam and there is a need for explicit reflections and material in Vietnamese on the theories and methodologies that anthropologists employ, in the field of reproductive health as well as more generally. Secondly, the publication aims to provide basic insights into the reproductive health situation in two rural communes on the North Central coast. We will therefore present not only the products of our field research – we also seek to provide insights into the processes through which research results were generated. Readers who are mainly interested in learning more about the ENRECA project, its background and activities, will benefit mostly from chapter 1. Readers interested primarily in anthropology and anthropological research methods may want to concentrate on chapters 2 and 3, while readers wanting to learn about the reproductive health situation in local communities will benefit mostly from chapters 4 and 5.  When reading all the chapters from one end to the other, the reader gets insight into the consecutive steps in a qualitative research process: definition of the problem, identifying the theoretical frame of a study, methodology, fieldwork, analysis, and the process of writing up.

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