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Geographical development economics as reflected in the recent report by World Bank (2009) Reshaping Economic Geography (henceforth WDR-2009) and Sachs' (2005) End of Poverty has placed geographical factors of distance and density at the core of economic development. However, development geography has largely moved beyond a paradigm of modernity. This article seeks to narrow the above disciplinary divide and suggests that explanations of distance and density are not irrelevant but will need to be better integrated to local knowledge, practices and power relations in development schemes which are valued by development geographers. The latter is examined in the context of micro-credit programmes in two lagging areas, Soc Son and Vinh Loc, in northern Vietnam. Drawing from interviews and surveys of 160 female participants, we show that micro-credit, WDR-2009 and Sachs' geographical variables significantly affect poverty levels. However, qualitative interviews also reveal that the effects of distance, density and micro-credit schemes are constituted differently in the two areas. Relative to their Vinh Loc counterparts, Soc Son's participants experience less distance and density problems but are confronted with greater vulnerability to coercive relations of rule. In contrast, the approach to rule in the more geographically distressed area of Vinh Loc is underscored by flexibility and compromise which seek to cultivate conditions that sustain local livelihoods.

Keywords: Vietnam; female farmers; governmentality; market access; micro-credit

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0467.2010.00333.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14261, United States., Email: jesspoon@buffalo.edu 2: Department of Geography, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14261, United States., Email: diepthai@buffalo.edu

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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