This paper explores state-led resettlement of the Bắc di cư [northern migrants] in South Vietnam. A response to the 1954–1955 transmigration, resettlement has long been portrayed as merely an extension of Ngô Đình Diệm’s authority, evidence of his desire to establish a Catholic state, and proof that northern migrants were a privileged minority. I argue instead that directed resettlement revealed a state that was unable to tackle the migration crisis and consequently relied on non-state actors to cope. Due to regional biases held by Ngô Đình Diệm and others, however, the resettlement of the northern migrants became a blueprint for subsequent RVN land development projects.

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