Vietnam Academy Of Social Sciences
Name: Institute of Anthropology
Phone: 84-4-62730467
Fax: (84-4) 62730419
Address: Floor 10, No 1, Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Functions and tasks of the Institute of Anthropology

The Institute of Anthropology is a research institute, directly under Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, founded under  Decree No 59/CP, 14/05/1968 of the Government Union. The international name is Institute of Anthropology.

According to Decision No 244/QD-KHXH, 27/02/2013 of the President of Vietnam Academy Social Sciences, the function of The Institute of Anthropology are: Basic, general research combined with applied research and forecasts of anthropological issues in Vietnam and the world, in order to contribute scientific substantiations for the formation and execution of ethnic policy of Vietnamese government; attends to Vietnam’s industrialization, modernization, and international integration; take part in scientific consultant and higher education training on ethnology and anthropology.


  1. The period of resisting American aggression (1968 - 1975)

Resistance War against America is also the period of establishment and early development of the Institute of Anthropology. During this period, the institute executed many scientific activities, mainly Investigation and research to identify the component of Vietnam’s ethnicities and Basic research about ethnicities and ethnic cultures.

Investigation and research to identify the component of Vietnam’s ethnicities were the most important duty of the Institute in the period of Resistance War against America.

Based on three factors in identifying the component of ethnicities, which are language, cultural character, and human self-consciousness, in the beginning period, researching groups went to many provinces, ethnic groups in the country to investigate, explore, and research. In 1978, this activity finalized with the Table of Vietnam’s component of nationalities including 54 ethnicities, of which 53 were confirmed by the Institute. The research result was recognized by the government and published on 2nd March, 1979. This was a great success of Vietnam’s Anthropology, which is highly appreciated and regarded by Vietnamese and international scientists.

Basic research about ethnicities and ethnic cultures has been considered as regular professional activity since the birth of the institute. A series of researches about each ethnic group is published on trade journals and other social and sciences journals, publications about ethnic zones, ethnic groups, or each ethnicity, which were edited and published by the institute. For example, A brief introduction about ethnic groups of Tày, Nùng, Thái in Vietnam (1968), Dao ethnic minority in Vietnam (1971), Ethnic groups in South Asian linguistic in northwest Vietnam (1972), Problems of identifying component of ethnic minorities in Vietnam (1975)…The contents of basic researches concentrate on introducing general pictures about ethnicities, ethnic groups, clarify ethnic characteristics, facilitate understanding and supporting between ethnics, thereby, contribute to the implementation of the Party and State’s ethnic policy.

  1. The period before Reform 1986 (1976 - 1986)

Because this period is characterized by the complete national unification, scientific research activities of Institute Anthropology changed fundamentally. Researching staffs and organization were step by step consolidated and strengthened. Two prominent and remarkable scientific achievements in this period are:

Continuing basic research about ethnicities and ethnic cultures: The Institute operated many investigations and surveys directing to comprehensive research, the result was a series of published studies introducing ethnicities and ethnic cultures, of which notable studies are: Historical and social material of Thai minority (1977); Contributing to the capability of studying and identifying ethnicities in Vietnam (1980); The overview of E de and Mnong ethnic minorities in Dák Lák (1982); Cultural life of Ha Nhi, Lo Lo minorities (1985)… Specifically, the Institute of Anthropology cooperating with outside researchers alternately edited and launched a series of books introducing 53 ethnic minorities in Vietnam, including two sets: Ethnic minorities in Vietnam ( Northern area) (1978) and Ethnic minorities in Vietnam ( Southern area) (1984). Regarding two books above, they mark the first time Vietnam has a relatively complete and comprehensive “encyclopedia” about all ethnic minorities in Vietnam.

Economic and Social research for the development of the country: This was a new line of research compared with the previous period. Outstanding scientific achievements in this field, firstly, might be the contribution of the institute’s staffs in the success of  two national projects: Construction of scientific arguments for completing policies toward ethnic minorities and economic and social development in mountainous areas (KX.04.11) and Nuances of local cultures and ethnic groups in the country’s development strategy (KX.06.05). In this period, the Institute actively participated in many important national economic and social development programs, such as: Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) program I, II; Economic and social development program for northern mountainous provinces…Through programs and projects mentioned above, the Institute had important contributions in identifying and assessing the level of economic, social, and cultural development of ethnic minorities, specifically minorities in two strategic areas: Northern mountainous area and Tay Nguyen. On that basis, the Institute proposed scientific arguments for planning and concretizing policies of the Government related to ethnic and mountain region, consistent with the characteristics of each region and each ethnicity.

  1. The Reform period (1987 – 2013)

In order to meet the needs of scientific research in the renovation period, the Institute continued made changes and developments about organizational structure and researching forces. The prominent researching achievements in this period are:

Basic research on ethnicity and ethnic culture: Since the Reform period, especially since the early 1990s, ethnological study raised some research issues, which are preserving and promoting cultural identity of ethnicities during the industrialization and modernization of the country. These are the reasons for the flourish of studies about culture and ethnic culture of the Institute staffs in this period, which can be demonstrated by a large number of published studies such as: President Ho Chi Minh and ethnic issues (1991); The Rong house (Communal house) of ethnic minorities in Tay Nguyen (1991); Relations between ethnic groups within a nation (1993); Muong minority’s family and marriage in Phu Tho (2005); Sustainable development of ethnic culture in the integration process in the Northeast (2012)…

Besides comprehensively studying about culture and ethnic culture, the Institute also researches different aspects of ethnic lives, such as economic activities, organizations, and social institutions, marriages and families, religious beliefs, population, environment, health care community…

Along with basic research during two previous periods, the basic research results in the Reform period portrayed a more careful, adequate, and specific picture of cultural unity and diversity of Vietnam ethnicities and contributed to preserving and promoting the culture identify of the nation.

Combining basic research with applied research in the practice of construction and sustainable development in minorities. 

Because of practical needs in the country, the Institute’s research and development in the Reform period were implemented continuously and regularly, with many domestic and foreign partners, in two areas:

First, developing programs, projects, and researches related to economic and social development in mountainous and ethnic areas.

Second, directly deploying or cooperating with other partners to undertake research  projects, subjects, or community development; in one side, improves capacity of community development for officials and local people; and in the other side, contributes to explain practical problems in sustainable development strategy in ethnic areas.

Regarding the first field, the Institute successfully implemented more than 50 national-level subjects and projects, investigated about 200 institute-level subjects on following topics: Redefining the component of some ethnicities, migration, resettlement, land, environment, education, health care, cultural identity (language, script and customs), ethnic religious conversion, impact of ethnic culture to economic-social development, sustainable development in the border… By developing these subjects, many theoretical and practical issues related to sustainable development of mountainous and ethnic areas were solved and clarified.

Regarding second field, by applied research methods, the Institute organized or cooperated with partners to carry out subjects and projects to nurture the staffs’ abilities, community developments capability for officials and local people; on the other hands, participating in explanation of practical problems in sustainable development strategy in mountainous and ethnic area. Selected subjects, programs, and projects cooperating with scientific agencies and institution abroad are: Vietnam – Canada joint project Poverty reduction in selected Vietnam regions, Enhancing assessment capacity of policies and project planning (1999-2003), Researching project on Mechanism to cope with food shortage of ethnic minorities in Highland, Vietnam by Rockefeller Fund (2004-2007); Research about the Transformation of the market in Vietnam’s contemporary society collaborating with the Institute of Social and Anthropology of Max Planck Institute of Federal Republic of Germany (2013)…

Besides international joint projects, the Institute has collaborated with several provinces to do basic research and development in the theme of ethnographic/ anthropology. Moreover, the Institute’ scientists are consultants for many international organizations, such as: the World Bank (WB), Asia Development Bank (ADB) and Department for International Development (DFID)…in research and development projects such as poverty alleviation, education, health care, forest, community, climate change… in many Vietnam regions.

During 45 years building and developing, staffs and officials in the Institute of Anthropology have been overcoming hardships to complete assigned tasks, deserving to be a specialized research institute of Vietnam. Great and proud achievements of scientific researches in different fields of the Institute were recognized with Third-class Labor Medal in the 15th anniversary of the Institute’s establishment (1983), First-class Labor Medal in the 30th birthday of the Institute (1998) and Third-class Independence Medal in the 35th anniversary of the Institute’s establishment (2003).