Focusing on the site of former colonial French prison, Con Son Island in Vietnam, the project explores the relationship between natural and human heritage and the difficult juxtapositions posed when this human heritage attests to a dark and violent, colonial past. During French colonial rule, over 20,000 Vietnamese were imprisoned and died on the island.
Addressing the Challenge
The aim of the project is to consider how tourism and heritage initiatives developed on Con Son might establish meaningful links between different visitor practices and agendas which commit both international visitors and local communities to the use and development of the site in terms of ethical responsibility towards the natural environment via an enhanced, embodied experience and understanding of the colonial built environment.
The project involves collaboration between NTU and TDT University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. More specifically, it brings together scholars from cultural and heritage studies backgrounds (Fuggle and Massing) with academics working in social sciences (TDT) as well as practice-based photography (Fox).
The team will explore together how different ethnographic approaches (interviews, site observations etc) can be combined with a philosophical interrogation of the multiple and competing/conflicting stakes of a site like Con Son and how the use of visual documentation (photography) can reframe the space to produce further reflection and analysis.
Making a Difference
Seedcorn funding will enable scholars from NTU to participate in a workshop with colleagues based at TDT together with a site visit to Con Son. Following the fieldwork trip, the intention is to develop a longer term project with initial research published in a special journal issue.