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This talk is chaired by Eric Heikkila from the USC Price School of Public Policy.
Based on his new book The Birth of Vietnamese Political Journalism: Saigon 1916-30, Columbia University Press, Philippe Peycam considers the complex historical environment of the 1920s port city, colonial Saigon, as a space for new forms of interaction and political consciousness, enabling the emergence of an original public political culture: a small albeit vibrant sphere of political sociability represented by newspapers, public readings, learned societies, private schools as well as authorized and non-authorized public groupings in the city-scape. Such emerging political space was centered around the phenomenon of làng báo chí or “newspaper village” and the emblematic figure of the "journalist-intellectual". If by the second half of the decade, Saigon’s newspaper village succeeded in demystifying the colonial self-legitimizing rhetoric, it found itself challenged by another, anti-urban, rural-focused, counter political culture of mass mobilization.
Philippe Peycam is the director of the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden, the Netherlands. He is a trained historian of Southeast Asia. For 10 years, Dr. Peycam worked as founding director of the Center for Khmer Studies, an academic and capacity building institution in Cambodia. This double trajectory stems from an early interest in phenomena such as colonialism and modes of resistance to it; the creative role of the city as a privileged environment for new forms of social interaction, and ultimately, consciousness; the importance of cultural forms and representations from material and immaterial heritages to institutional knowledge production, and the challenge of building cross-cultural, transnational bridges out of these contexts. He sees these intellectual interests as having implications for concrete development policies in today’s postcolonial societies. From 2010-2011, he was a United States Institute of Peace’s Jenning Randolph Fellow. He is attached to the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore as Visiting Research Fellow.