at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Public Space, Public City “Dancing in the Park” Hanoi at Its Millennium


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12:00 p.m., Friday, 04 February 2011, Tokioka Room (Moore 319)
Presented by Dr. Michael Douglass, Professor of Urban & Regional Planning, Executive Director of the Globalization Research Center at UHM
Henry Mochida, Ph.D. student in Urban & Regional Planning, Associate Director for Digital Media and Filmmaking at the Globalization Research Center at UHM
Hao Nguyen, Ph.D. candidate in Urban & Regional Planning, Associate Director of the Globalization Research Center at UHM

This presentation is about a film which is the story of social life in Hanoi, a city in the midst of its 1,000th anniversary as the capital of Vietnam. Every morning Hanoians from across the city gather at Thong Nhat Park for relaxation, exercise, chatting and ballroom dancing. As the city enters a new epoch as an open market economy, the park has quickly become a target for global investment seeking to privatize public spaces. The film shows how park users share in creating and managing activities for social engagement and how they view the importance of the park in their daily lives. It also follows how NGOs and journalists in Hanoi mobilized Hanoians to confront the immanent threat to this vital social space.


Michael Douglass focuses his research on livable cities in Asia, with particular interest in Hanoi. His recent books include: Globalization, the Rise of Civil Society and Civic Spaces in Pacific Asia Cities (2010) and Building Urban Communities: The Politics of Civic Space in Asia (2008). He is the recipient of the Excellence in Research Award from the UHM College of Social Sciences (2008-2009 and 2001-2002) and was recently a Senior Visiting Research Scholar at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (2010).

Henry I. Mochida has dedicated the past 5 years in filmmaking for social research and planning. He is an award winning filmmaker with experience on over 100 productions with premiers in film festivals around the world. His research interests are on the image in the production of knowledge and in planning theory. He seeks to foster critical thinking and deliberative democracy through planning based filmmaking.

Hao Nguyen in his professional life prior to coming to UH was a researcher at the Institute of Sociology, under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences in Hanoi. His main concerns include issues of urbanization and environment, migration and urban poverty, decentralization, and public spaces and city life in the developing world. He was awarded the Harvard-Yenching Institute’s Scholarship from Harvard University to pursue his doctoral degree in Urban and Regional Planning at UHM.