Human Trade in Colonial Vietnam

In D.W. Haines; K. Yamanaka; S. Yamashita (eds.). Wind over Water. Migration in an East-Asian Setting. New York: Berghan Books, 21-23

The historical perspective proves to be fundamental to comprehend modern phenomenon of transactions of persons that were widespread in the Indochinese peninsula a century ago, should we believe historical archives. Indeed, these practices finely described by colonial administrators of Indochina do not seem to have disappeared from contemporary Southeast Asia.

Firstly, the paper combines a set of sources – recent book chapters, old French papers, and materials from the National Archives of Centre No.1 in Hanoi and the Centre of Over Seas Archives in Aix-en-Provence – that have allowed us to comprehend the world of human trafficking and slavery in colonial Vietnam from the late 19 th century to the early 1940’s. In the first instance, voice will be given to unfortunate Tonkinoises women and Moïs from the central highlands, as well as to kidnappers, pirates and slaves merchants. National and transnational trafficking flows will be described through a map that will indicate the main commercial routes and passage sites. The talk will then focus on the purpose of such transactions: adoption, concubinage, slavery of ethnic minorities, and of course prostitution. Colonial representations on slavery and French policies aiming to repress piracy or to control the “venereal danger” which shadowed French troops will then be outlined.