Monday, May 4, 2009

Canberra Conference 2009 Proposal

Diasporas and transnational marriages form a new type of frontier areas of the modern nations. As kinship/mandala is an important institution in the Vietnamese culture, phenomena on the family edge to other nations will certainly help to define and understand the components of the national identity, what is also the subject of my long-term interest since 1998. Being planed as one chapter in my book, the issue will be ground theorised from collected materials, including autobiographies, blog and personal documents, as well as in-depth interviews and supporting texts like media pieces and official documents.

Methodology and theoretical framework in my study is inspired mainly by the Polish School of Sociology, what was created by a leading and also transnational scholar from the Chicago School: Florian Znaniecki. The boundary of a society can be seen through 1) the borderline, 2) the personal experience on the frontier or 3) the border itself as an institution (Kurczewska 2005). The most interesting issue is the people life on the frontier area, what is not only the geographical space but all situations in which individuals acknowledge of the outside of their national culture (Kloskowska 1993, cited in Kempny 2005). Border is actually the place that people can meet the other and consider their relationship to their own culture (Cohen 2003). Studies on Yao people living in the southern China pointed out the adoption to kinship status as their way of crossing the ethnic boundaries (Barth 1969). Transnational marriages are the promising field to explore and understand how cultural differences can persist despite inter-nation contact and interdependence. National identity of diasporas can be put on the axis of "strong" and "weak" community project (Bojar 2005). The "frontier identity", in opposition to marginal man (Park 1928), as a perspective helps to better understand the relation between the nation and the modern state, as well as economical, political and social processes under the quick change of globalisation (Kempny 2005). Accordingly to the particular appearance of the transnational identities, the methodological individualism (Hodgson 2007, Heath 2005) is a convenient ground for the narrative analysis of biographical data.

In the last 20 years, there are many studies on the Vietnamese Diasporas in the US (Kibria 1993, 1998, Zhou & Bankston III 1998, Centrie 2004, Do Duc Hien 1999, Reed-Danahay 2008, Espiritu 2006, Freeman 1989), Australia (Nguyen Huynh CHau 2005, Ho Dac Tuc 1997), UK (Joly 1988), and in the former communist countries (Nguyen Quang Thuan 2008) like the East Germany (Huwellmeier 2008) and Poland (Grzymala-Kazlowska 2008, Halik 2008). The perspectives moved away from the "host-country-centrism" to the transnational views, what is also a global trend in research on immigration (Levitt&Waters ed. 2006). A current study of the Vietnamese diasporas around the globe by Le Si Long at the University of Houston and his academic blog at lead to a theory of Displacement as a promising prism to understand the history and life of Vietnamese-origin people. However, this narrative is not planned to ground on Vietnamese communities living in the Eastern Europe, who did not suffer both the 1954 and 1975 exoduses. An opposite tendency or the rite of returning home was discovered by Kate Jellema (2007) as a practice of national identity among overseas Vietnamese, but the suggestion was not followed by further empirical research. In the last decade, transnational marriage became a new interest partly because of the negative incidents with Vietnamese brides in Taiwan and Korea. However, there are just a few academic work on this field (Hung Cam Thai 2007, 2008, Ahn Kyong Hwan 2008, and several others in Chinese by scholars from Taiwan), and fewer works on other transnational groups like workers and students (Zink 2008). Being exposed in such an academic stage, my work will be unique with its attempt to theorise on all transnational groups of Vietnamese origin, using kinship as a prism to look at the national frontier from the homeland's point of view.

Kurczewska, Joanna 2005, [Boundary has more than one name. Three theoretical approaches] Granica Niejedno Ma Imie. Trzy Podejscia Teoretyczne, in Joanna Kurczewska & Hanna Bojar ed. 2005, [Boundaries on the Frontier] Granice na Pograniczach, (in Polish) Warszawa, IFiS PAN p.365-396.

Bojar, Hanna 2005, [Public Sphere in "Weak" and "Strong" Local Frontier Community - the Cases of Braniew and Wlodaw] Przestrzen Publiczna w "Slabej" i "Mocnej" Spolecznosci Lokalnej Pogranicza - Na Przykladzie Braniewa i Wlodawy, in Joanna Kurczewska & Hanna Bojar ed. 2005, [Boundaries on the Frontier] Granice na Pograniczach, (in Polish) Warszawa, IFiS PAN p.273-292.

Kempny, Marian 2005, [Community Boundaries and "Frontier" Identities] Granice Wspolnot i "Pograniczne" Tozsamosci, in Joanna Kurczewska & Hanna Bojar ed. 2005, [Boundaries on the Frontier] Granice na Pograniczach, (in Polish) Warszawa, IFiS PAN p.125-143.

Barth, Fredrik 1969, Introduction, in Fredrik Barth ed. 1969, Ethnic Groups and Boundaries, Oslo, Universitetforlaget.

Park, Robert E. 1928, Human Migration and the Marginal Man, in American Journal of Sociology nr 33(6).

Cohen, Anthony P. 1985, Symbolic Construction of Community, London, Tavistock

Kloskowska, Antonina 1993, [Multicultural at the Frontier Regions] Wielokulturowosc regionow pogranicza, in Region i regionalizm - pojecia i rzeczywistosc, Warszawa

Heath, Joseph 2005, Methodological Individualism, in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Internet publication at

Hodgson, Geoffrey M. 2007, Meanings of Methodological Individualism, in the Journal of Economic Methodology 14(2) June 2007, p.211-216.

Zink, Eren 2008, The science of returning home: an anthropological case study of young Vietnamese scientists returning home from studies abroad, in The Third International Conference on Vietnamese Studies at Hanoi, 4-7 December 2008.

Halik, Teresa 2008, Vietnamese community in Poland (in the eyes of state administration and the people), in The Third International Conference on Vietnamese Studies at Hanoi, 4-7 December 2008.

Nguyen, Quang Thuan 2008, Some issues concerning Vietnamese community in some eastern European countries, in The Third International Conference on Vietnamese Studies at Hanoi, 4-7 December 2008.

Grzymala-Kazlowska, Aleksandra 2008, [Separation, integration of assimilation? Adaptation strategies of immigrants from Ukraine and Vietnam in Poland] Separacja, integracja czy asymilacja? Strategia adaptacyjne osiadlych w Polsce imigrantow z Ukrainy i z Wietnamu, in Kultura i Spoleczenstwo LII(2) April-June 2008, Warszawa ISP PAN

Kibria, Nazli 1993, Family Tightrope: The changing Lives of Vietnamese American, Princeton University Press

Kibria, Nazli 1998, Household Structure and Family Ideologies: The Case of Vietnamese Refugees, in Karen V.

Hansen & Anita Ilta Garey ed. 1998, Families in the United States: Kinship and Domestic Politics, Temple University Press, chapter 5.

Zhou, Min & Carl Leon Bankston III 1998, Growing up American: how Vietnamese children adapt to life in the United States, Russell Sage Foundation.

Do, Duc Hien 1999, The Vietnamese Americans, Greenwood Publication

Centrie, Craig 2004, Identity formation of Vietnamese immigrant youth in an American high school, LFB Scholary Publication (University of Michigan).

Deborah Reed-Danahay & Caroline Brettell 2008, Introduction, in Deborah Reed-Danahay & Caroline Brettell ed. 2008, Citizenship, Political Engagement, and Belonging: Immigrants in Europe and the United States, Rutgers University Press.

Gertrud Huwelmeier 2008, Spirits in the Marketplace: Transnational Networks of Vietnamese Migrants in Berlin, in Michael Peter Smith & John Eade ed. 2008, Transnational Ties: Cities, Migrations, and Identity, in the series of Comparative Urban and Community Research vol.9, Transaction publication.

Ho, Dac Tuc 1997, Vietnamese-English Bilinguals in Melbourne: Social Relationships in the Code-Switching of Personal Pronouns, in Language, Society & Culture issue 2, 1997, Internet publication by University of Tasmania.

Nguyen, Huynh Chau Nathalia 2005, Voyage of hope: Vietnamese Australian women's narratives, Common Ground

Freeman, James M. 1989, Hearts of Sorrow: Vietnamese-American Lives, Stanford University Press.

Espirity, Yen Le & Thom Tran 2006, Viet Nam, Nuoc Toi (Vietnam, my country): Vietnamese Americans and Transnationalism, in (Levitt & Waters ed. 2006, chapter 15)

Levitt, Peggy & Mary C. Waters ed. 2006, The Changing Face of Home: The Transnational Lives of the Second Generation, Russell Sage Foundation.

Thai, Hung Cam 2008, For Better or for Worse: Vietnamese International Marriages in the New Global Economy, Rutgers University Press

Joly, Daniele 1988, Refugees from Vietnam in Birmingham: Community, Voluntary agency and The role of Local authorities, Research paper nr.9 of Centre for Research in Ethnic relations, University of Warwick.

Jellema, Kate 2007, Returning Home: Ancestor Veneration and the Nationalism of Doi Moi Vietnam, in P. Taylor ed. 2007, Modernity and Re-enchantment Religion in Post-revolutionary Vietnam, Vietnam Update Series, ISEAS Publishing.

Call for Papers
Vietnam Update 2009: Migration Nation
19-20 November 2009
The Australian National University, Canberra
Migration has played a significant role in defining the shape of contemporary Vietnamese society. In the nation’s recent past, millions have migrated domestically and internationally as a result of conflict, ideological struggle, and epochal nation-building projects. In the wake of reform, comparable numbers are on the move in association with a new migratory scenario characterised by underdevelopment, inequality, opportunity, and the aspiration to social mobility.
Contemporary Vietnamese migration is marked by a proliferation of sending locales and receiving destinations as migrants move between an increasing variety of points within the country and across its borders.
Population movements associated in earlier scholarly literature largely with war-induced dislocation and nation-building initiatives are now easily matched in both size and complexity by an immense variety of migration types. These migrations are motivated by dynamics including the penetration of national and global capital into previously secluded regions; the processes of urbanisation and industrialisation; and the inequalities and opportunities associated with Vietnam’s structural position in the Indochinese, Asian and global economies.
These forces are producing rural to urban migration for seasonal or more permanent work in the building, industrial and service sectors; circular and permanent migration to Cambodia and Laos for both skilled and unskilled labour, trade, investment and resource exploitation; transnational labour migration to East Asia and Malaysia; marriage migration to South Korea and Taiwan; and educational migration to a great variety of destinations. In addition to these outmigrations, one must also take account of the significant effect on the Vietnamese homeland of return migration and the flow of economic and social capital from the refugee and labour diasporas.
For the 2009 update, the organisers seek papers that consider these and other contemporary and historical Vietnamese migratory flows in a critical and comparative light. We invite presenters to respond to one or a combination of key themes which we have outlined, and elaborated with indicative (but not exclusive) sub-topics, below.
1. Mapping the Landscape
The landscape of historical and contemporary Vietnamese migration is dynamic and complex. In the light of new evidence, historians continue to debate the meaning of significant migratory events such as 1954.
Meanwhile other migrations, such as those within Indochina, or those from one highland region to another, have been relatively neglected.
Rural to urban migration is a growth area for current research, and yet a clear picture of this phenomenon has yet to emerge. Under this topic heading, we invite papers that help us to make sense of the causes, routes and meanings of historical and contemporary Vietnamese migrations. Possible sub-topics include:
· continuities and ruptures in migration patterns from past to present
· debates in the historiography of migration
· mapping new sending and receiving regions
· new and neglected migration trajectories
2. Policy and Governance
Current Vietnamese migration is arguably shaped more by economic factors and familial and individual decisions than by the state. Nevertheless, population movements are also a response to the vision of national development favoured by Hanoi. Under this topic we wish to examine how voluntary population movements intersect with policy priorities and regulatory regimes in both Vietnam and in nations receiving Vietnamese labour and other migrants. Possible foci for papers under this topic
· migration policy versus migration practice
· migration and industrialisation/urbanisation policy
· regulatory mechanisms and measures in Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan
· returned/connected migrants as an interest group
· migrant "cosmopolitanisation" in the cities and overseas as a political challenge
3. Economics and Development
Arguably its migratory patterns are now in character with the Vietnam's "normalised" status as a developing Asian nation. Under this topic we wish to explore how contemporary Vietnamese migrations both respond to and shape socioeconomic conditions in the cities and countryside.
Suggested sub-topics include:
· the macro-structural context for migration
· segmented and gendered labour markets
· the global financial crisis
· remittances
· demographic and environmental pressures
4. Local and Household Experiences
In this topic we wish to focus on the individual and family experience of the macro-structures that form the wider context for Vietnamese migration. In this micro context, migrants typically possess situated and partial understandings of the risks and opportunities connected to certain migration pathways. Compatriots already settled in the cities or overseas may inform their decisions and aid in their resettlement. Those who stay behind may also experience local social and economic transformations as a result of cumulative emigration from their home villages or towns. Suggested sub-themes:
· individual and collective decision-making
· household risk diversification
· migrant networks and social capital
· new kinship arrangements across space
· transformations of gender identities and the division of labour at home
5. Diasporas and Transnationalism
A significant number of Vietnamese emigrants belong to permanently or semi-permanently settled overseas communities such as the refugee diaspora in the West or the transnational labour and bride diasporas in Asia. Under this heading, we wish to focus on the significance of these extraterritorial populations from the point of view of the homeland.
That is to say, to what extent has Hanoi responded to the risks and opportunities associated with re-engaging the Vietnamese diaspora(s)?
Has the presence led to a shift in the way national identity is conceptualised in the homeland? Possible topics for investigation include:
· new transnational identities and relationships
· Vietnamese transnational citizenship?
· transnational marriage and families across borders
· virtual migrant worlds: transnational media and communications
· non-Vietnamese expatriate communities in Vietnam (business, educational, etc)
Proposal Submissions:
Contributors should send their proposals and a one page CV to Dr Ashley Carruthers by 15 May 2009. Email:
Each proposal should be no longer than 600 words. We are seeking papers
· make a substantive empirical engagement with contemporary or historical Vietnamese migrations
· specify their methodologies and offer testable hypotheses
· offer a comparative perspective on aspects of Vietnamese migration
· combine two or more of the questions and themes outlined above
· take an interdisciplinary perspective on migration
Please note that paper submissions must nominate a specific topic or combination of topics outlined in the call for papers. Submissions that fail to do so will not be eligible for consideration for inclusion in the Update.
The conference organizers will collectively make the final decision on which proposals to accept. We will then extend invitations to the authors of the selected proposals to prepare and present their papers to the conference. The organizers reserve the right to reject papers presented and also to solicit papers, if necessary, from individuals who did not submit proposals.
Some funding for travel and accommodation is available and details will be discussed later with each paper presenter.
Paper Specifications:
The paper itself should be submitted 30 days before the date of the conference.
The paper should not exceed 10,000 words and it should include appropriate bibliography and citations. It should be as close as possible to a final draft of a paper written for scholarly peer review as possible. Each paper should include an abstract of 200 words.
Presentation and Publication:
We envisage about ten paper presentations during a one and a half day workshop in Canberra on 19-20 November 2009. The conference will also have two presentations about recent political and economic developments in Vietnam.
At the Update each author will have approximately 40 minutes to summarise what her/his paper argues and the evidence used. The full text of the paper may be included, subject to any necessary revisions to meet publication requirements, in a refereed book that we hope will be published within a year after the conference.
Conference Organisers:
For further information, please contact any of the following organizers:
Convenor: Ashley Carruthers, School of Archaeology & Anthropology, Faculty of Arts. Email:
Philip Taylor, Dept. of Anthropology, RSPAS, The Australian National University.
David Koh, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.
David Marr, Division of Pacific and Asian History, RSPAS, The Australian National University.
Li Tana, Division of Pacific and Asian History, RSPAS, The Australian National University.
Ben Kerkvliet, Dept. of Political and Social Change, RSPAS, The Australian National University.
Thai Duy Bao, Faculty of Asian Studies, The Australian National University.
Dr Ashley Carruthers
Regional Editor (Southeast Asia)
Asian Studies Review
School of Archaeology and Anthropology
A.D. Hope Building, 014
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200 Australia
T: +61 2 6125 6788
F: +61 2 6125 2711

1 comment:

Giao said...

Why don't you check out Viet Thanh Nguyen's short story, i.e. Arthur Arellano?

It offers an interesting way to look at kinship biologically, geographically and culturally. Arthur has in his own body a kidney of a Vietnamese guy whose last name is Vu, which is also shared by a Vietnam-born Chinese that Arthur has befriended. See how people relate to each other through the idea of NAME...