Vietnam and Russia share a common socialist history dating back to the Cold War. But since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Vietnam’s đổi mới reforms, Russia has also become a destination for Vietnamese labour migrants who dream of making their fortune. Working in markets, garment factories, and as small traders – both legally and illegally – they live precarious lives, harassed by police, loan sharks, market bosses, and criminals. While huge profits can be made, these migrants are acutely vulnerable to sudden changes in market conditions and government policy, not to mention the bitter Russian cold. In Vietnamese Migrants in Russia: Mobility in Times of Uncertainty (Amsterdam UP, 2020), Lan Anh Hoang presents an astonishing account of the struggles of Vietnamese migrants in Russia. The book also raises broader issues: about the global phenomenon of labour migration of unskilled Asian workers; and most poignantly, about how conditions of acute uncertainty and dependence on the market in a foreign land, upset migrants’ normal conceptions of social values and morality.

Vietnamese Migrants in Russia: Mobility in Times of Uncertainty won the 2022 Association of Mainland Southeast Asian Scholars (AMSEAS) prize for best first book.

Patrick Jory teaches Southeast Asian History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland. He can be reached at: p.jory@uq.edu.au.

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