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Making Shrimp Economies and Hydro-Social Lives: The Hatchery, the Shrimp Farm, and the Laboratory in the Mekong Delta

LIAO, YU-KAI (2022) Making Shrimp Economies and Hydro-Social Lives: The Hatchery, the Shrimp Farm, and the Laboratory in the Mekong Delta. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis explores the formation and operation of shrimp economies that bring together multiple species and their ecological conditions of production through capitalist and more-than-capitalist relations in contexts of agrarian, technical, and environmental changes. It focuses on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, where due to climate change and salinity intrusion, farmers and companies are shifting from growing rice to breeding shrimp in an effort to adapt to climate change and help alleviate poverty. These strategies of adaptation and livelihood, however, also have effects on delta ecologies and economies. The research draws these dynamics together at the intersection of water and society, or hydro-social life, to examine different sites amid the history of water management in the Mekong Delta. Multi-species and multi-sited ethnography were conducted, following shrimp through the hatchery, the shrimp farm, and the laboratory within and beyond the Mekong Delta.

This research argues that shrimp economies, as a form of bioeconomy, are formed and constructed by organising hydro-social lives across three sites: (1) shrimp reproduction in the hatchery, (2) shrimp growth on the farm, and (3) scientific research in the laboratory. Hydro-social lives assemble and reassemble water-shrimp-human-environment relations to create the material basis of shrimp production. Meanwhile, hydro-social lives involve both capitalist and more-than-capitalist relations, which drive significant agrarian, technical, and environmental changes to farmers and capitalists within and beyond the Mekong Delta.

This study makes three original contributions. First, it extends work in political economy and political ecology on the socio-natural organisation of commodity production by analysing the materiality of shrimp production, and capitalist and more-than-capitalist relations in bioeconomies. Second, it contributes to water research by examining how water-shrimp-human-environment relations are integral to the production of aquatic animals. Third, it unfolds hydro-social life in the hatchery, the delta, and the laboratory to examine these complex and dynamic relations in different environments, contributing to delta studies and STS.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Shrimp economies, hydro-social lives, ecological conditions of production, biosecurity, the Mekong Delta
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:21 Sep 2022 15:41

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