Dr Ashley Carruthers

Lecturer in Anthropology
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Consumption And Everyday Life 200203
  • Migration 160303
  • Asian Cultural Studies 200202
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104

Research interests

Migration, mobilities, networks and infrastructures, farming, organic agriculture, bicycles, Vietnam

Researcher's projects


Organic farming is our political duty!

The establishment of the organic farming co-operatives of Thanh Dong (Hoi An) and Kim Long (Hue) is a complex and fascinating story involving a whole cast of actors: NGO Action for the City (ACCD), local People's Committees, City level government, foreign experts, student volunteers (including ANU students on the Vietnam Field School) and most importantly, the farmers themselves. While this drama is ongoing, to date it has been a hopeful one in which people living in precarity in periurban areas threatened by the expropriation of farming land, loss of rural livelihoods and the destruction of environments have, in an apparently impossible situation, succeeded in building new collectives that have enabled them to reconfigure a set of entrenched problems around the survival of smallholder farming in Vietnam.  These assemblages involve reconfigured relationships with their immediate neighbours to create a renewed sense of local community, but also with the previously disconnected middle class urbanites and urban institutions (such as schools and universities) who are now their customers and collaborators. These new social ties do not stand alone, but rather are nodes in a complex new network involving an equally rich cast of non-human actors: land, organic produce, animals, waste, new infrastructures and technologies such as greenhouses, composting structures and misting irrigation systems, networks of communications, marketing, distribution, certification, and on and on. These new farming assemblages in turn act upon a rich series of ongoing "controversies": over food safety, chemical agriculture, land tenure, urbanisation and the status of rural people in a rapidly modernising society.



Taking the Road for Play: Cyclist Appropriations of Automobile Infrastructures in Vietnam

After declining in status and mode share sharply with the popularization of the motorcycle, cycling in Vietnam is on the rise. Urban elites who pursue sport and leisure cycling are the most visible of Vietnam’s new cyclists, and they bring their sense of social mastery out onto the road with them by appropriating the nation’s new, automobile-focused infrastructures as places for play and display. While motivated by self-interest, their informal activism around securing bicycle access to new bridges and highways potentially benefits all and contributes to making livable cities. These socially elite cyclists transcend the status associated with their means of mobility as they enact their mastery overautomobile infrastructures meant to usher in a new Vietnamese automobility.

Check out the article here: https://www.berghahnjournals.com/view/journals/transfers/8/3/trans080302.xml

Past student projects