Youth-driven tactics of public space appropriation in Hanoi : the case of skateboarding and parkour
Article [Version of Record]
Is part ofPacific affairs ; vol. 89, no. 3, pp. 591-611.
Publisher(s)University of British Columbia
Starting in the 2000s, there has been a rise in youth-led appropriation of public spaces in Hanoi, Vietnam. Through case studies of skateboarders and traceurs (practitioners of parkour) in two of the city’s formal public spaces, we explore and analyze the tactics deployed by these young urbanites to claim a part of the characteristically overcrowded and socio-politically restrictive public spaces of the Vietnamese capital. These case studies show that, by seeking to access public spaces for their new activities, skaters and traceurs have had to confront multiple sets of rules, imposed by not only the state, but also corporate actors and resident-driven surveillance. We find that skateboarders and traceurs deal with these forms of control largely through small-scale, non-ideological, and non-confrontational tactics. As a result, these youth practices have become normalized in Hanoi’s public spaces. These findings broaden the discourses on everyday urbanism and social-political transformations in post-socialist urban contexts, and shed light on the ways in which contemporary youths engage with the city.