Book Review: The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empire, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam

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    Abstract

    The European colonial impulse is Janus-faced. On one side, there is a yearning to explore the great unknown in search of lands and fortune. On the other is fear, which manifests over time as a tendency to "fortify" itself, like an insecure traveler. This was certainly the case for French colonials in Indochina, where the French mission civilisatrice reflected an overweening faith in thought and achievement paired with an attitude of white supremacy. Authorities such as French Indochina Governor-General Paul Doumer (1897-1902) planned a "modern," state-of-the-art Hanoi for Frenchmen to inhabit, rich with Beaux-Arts architecture and a network of sewers. Its purpose was to separate Frenchmen from the much larger local Vietnamese population, which colonials, guided by bogus racial theories of the day, regarded as unclean and backward. But what happened when a major infestation of plague-bearing rats in the French quarter required local manpower to resolve it?
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)110-112
    JournalJournal of International & Global Studies
    Volume10
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

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