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Places of Nature in Ecologies of Urbanism$
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Anne Rademacher and K. Sivaramakrishnan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9789888390595

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888390595.001.0001

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Eco-Socialism and Green City Making in Postwar Vietnam

Eco-Socialism and Green City Making in Postwar Vietnam

(p.45) 2 Eco-Socialism and Green City Making in Postwar Vietnam
Places of Nature in Ecologies of Urbanism

Christina Schwenkel

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter examines shifts in the meaning and use of green space in socialist housing blocks in Vinh City, Vietnam, a ‘model’ socialist city rebuilt by East Germany (GDR) after its destruction by US aerial bombing. Unique to the eight-year project was the central role that ecological design played in urban reconstruction owing to financial and material constraints on the one hand, and ideological imperatives on the other. Green technology transfers served to radically transform the landscape with parks and cultivated green spaces that catered to the needs of workers and their families. These ‘eco-socialist’ practices, as I refer to them, constituted a fundamental effort on the part of GDR planners to rationally manage and order urban space that was deemed disorderly and too rural for the city. Yet utopian visions of urban modernity often came up short as they revealed more about East German lifestyles than about the pragmatic possibilities for recovery in postwar Vietnam. Ensuing struggles over the appropriate use of urban nature emerged at the center of the modernizing project and the creation of new socialist persons in Vietnam. 

Keywords:   Vietnam, urban planning, postwar reconstruction, global socialism, East Germany, green architecture, sustainability, social housing, ruralization of the city, urban nature

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