Beginning in 1990, the Australian National University (ANU) has been holding its series of Vietnam Update conferences almost every year. The chapters in this volume began as papers presented at the Vietnam Update 2001 held at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore on 19–20 November. The theme of that particular Update was “Governance in Vietnam: The Role of Organizations”.
By the time of the Vietnam Update 2003, there would have been 10 conferences, each focused on a particular theme. Over the years, the Update has looked at agriculture, education, law, civil society, mass media, urban culture, local government, and social differentiation, to name just a few of the themes. Conference proceedings have resulted in eight publications (books and monographs). The specialized nature of ANU's Vietnam Update is its hallmark, attesting to a capacity to draw on a critical mass of experts, both Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese, to explore specific topics. It also underlines the university's long record in researching Vietnam.
The 2001 Update was the first time the conference left the shores of Australia. Holding the conference in Singapore tapped into the island's strategic location in the region and drew a greater attendance from people working in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. Since then, ISEAS has continued to co-host the conference in Canberra in 2002 and 2003. This book underlines how fruitful this ANU-ISEAS collaboration has been. More titles will be available when the volumes from the 2002 and 2003 Updates are published.
Finally, we would like to thank all those who funded the Vietnam Update 2001: the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), ISEAS and the ANU's Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. We are also grateful to staff members of both ANU and ISEAS who rendered invaluable organizational, editorial, and secretarial support.