The Politicization of Mobility Infrastructures in Vietnam - The Hanoi Metro Project at the Nexus of Urban Development, Fragmented Mobilities, and National Security




Hanoi Metro, Line 2A, Mobility Justice, Urban Mobility


This paper critically discusses the Hanoi Metro and its role in contemporary urban development processes in Hanoi. It aims to disentangle the complex interplay between the state’s urban development goals, local mobility patterns, and Sino-Vietnamese relations that influence discourses surrounding the Hanoi Metro. This paper argues that the Hanoi Metro project demonstrates that mobility infrastructures serve as an arena for state-society negotiations in Vietnamese cities. Rooted in the state’s vision of modernity, the metro is promoted as offering an alternative to individual motorized transport, improving urban traffic and mobility for all residents. However, controversies regarding corruption, safety, and Chinese involvement in the financing and construction of Line 2A have negatively affected public perception of the project during its construction period. The potential impact of the Hanoi Metro on urban mobility in a setting dominated by motorbikes is discussed using the mobilities paradigm, with a focus on local mobility practices and experiences. The findings are linked to broader discussions on Chinese investment and historically-rooted notions of modernity and civilization in the context of the long-term development goals of municipal authorities and rising anti-Chinese sentiments in Vietnamese society.

Author Biography

Franziska S. Nicolaisen, University of Passau

Franziska S. Nicolaisen has held positions as a research assistant on small-town tourism at the Chair of Urban Sociology at Darmstadt University and as a lecturer at the Chair of Development Politics at the University of Passau, both in Germany. Since 2020 she has been working on citizenship in Vietnam in cooperation with Mirjam Le. Her PhD project focuses on heritage tourism in historical urban spaces of Vietnam.


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