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This study of intellectuals and their cosmopolitan life trajectories is based on anthropological and historical research in Vietnam and India, two great Asian societies with contrasting experiences of empire, decolonisation and the rise and fall of the twentieth-century socialist world system. Building on the author's long-standing research experience in India and on remarkable family narratives collected during fieldwork in northern Vietnam, the book deals with epic events and complex social transformations from a perspective that emphasizes the personal and the familial. Its central theme is the extraordinary mobility of intelligentsia lives. The author explores the role of the intellectual in the economic, social and cultural transformation of the post-colonial world through in-depth ethnographic fieldwork methods. In identifying parallels and contrasts between Hanoi's 'socialist moderns' and the family and career experiences of their Indian counterparts, the book makes a distinctive contribution to the study of colonial, socialist and post-socialist Asia.