Years before meeting Melanie, I had benefited from reading her books and articles about Vietnam. In 1992 I moved to Australia to join the Australian National University and contacted her soon after my arrival. We subsequently met several times at the ANU, where periodically she was a visiting researcher in the Political and Social Change and other departments within the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, a participant in our Vietnam Updates, and a co-investigator with David Marr and Adam Fforde in a research project funded by the Australian Research Council. We also overlapped a few times in Vietnam. One of those occasions was 1998 during the First International Conference on Vietnamese Studies, where she gave a paper that, as I recall, became part of one of the books she and Đặng Phong wrote about Vietnam’s political economy prior to and leading into the renovation of Vietnam’s economic system.
In all of these occasions, Melanie impressed me as a well-informed and evenhanded scholar. She also had a calm, quiet demeanor that conveyed self-assurance while at the same time a sincere interest in what people were saying and doing.
That she died at a relatively young age is indeed very sad, especially for her family, colleagues, and friends. I hope they can take some comfort in knowing that Melanie made significant contributions to scholarship on contemporary Vietnam and that people years hence will continue to learn from her publications.
Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet
Emeritus Professor, Australian National University