Dr. Seb Rumsby

Hmong Protestants in Vietnam´s highlands

Date & Time

18.5. 2023


Trainee Centre Online


Hmong Protestants in Vietnam’s highlands“ 


Everyday Political Economy of Christian Conversion and Ethnic Inequality among a Marginalised Minority Groups in Northern Vietnam

As state economic policies promote integration under a single logic of modernist development, many impoverished groups remain on the margins. Using an everyday political economy lens, I demonstrate how seemingly powerless actors actively engage with larger forces, shaping their experience of development in ways that are underexamined but have far-reaching consequences. Following state-led market reforms in the 1980s, Vietnam experienced stunning economic transformation. But for the Hmong communities of the country’s north and central highlands, the benefits proved elusive. Instead, the Hmong people have pursued their own alternative paths to development. Rumsby shows how mass conversion to Christianity led to a case of “unplanned development” that put the Hmong on a trajectory of simultaneous integration into the market economy and resistance to state authority. Many of the strategies community members employ are tied to the Christianization of everyday life. Religious actors play complex and often contradictory roles in facilitating networks of exchange and shaping local ideas about progress..


Dr. Seb Rumsby currently researches the everyday politics of undocumented Vietnamese migration to the UK, funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation. His other areas of expertise include South East Asian history, religion and development, ethno-religious politics, political economy of grassroots development. He is also engaged in various impact activities in partnership with local development initiatives, particularly in South East Asia.