The Vietnamese Infrabureaucracy in Bac Ky (Tonkin) from Independence to Protectorate

(End of the 19th Century to Beginning of the 20th Century)
By Emmanuel Poisson

The employees in the mandarin offices in the north of Vietnam have been relegated to the status of « poor relation » in historiographies fascinated by the majestic figure of the mandarin. The present article aims to assess the importance of this infrabureaucracy situated between the mandarin and the village notables. Nevertheless, a study of the role of this infrabureaucracy leads to a consideration of its dysfunctioning, the latter being the consequence of the ambivalent position of the employees: at one and the same time indispensable relays of the power of the mandarinate, and sociologically very close to the village notables.

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