Rewriting Vietnam: Forms Of Nationhood In Diasporic Literature

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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republic of vietnam
south vietnam
vietnamese american
vietnam war
American Literature
Asian American Studies
International Relations
Literature in English, North America
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When the Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975, the Republic of Vietnam—the state south of the seventeenth parallel that the U.S. defended throughout the war against communist encroachment—ceased to exist. Through a rich archive of eleven texts authored by eight diasporic Vietnamese writers based in France and the U.S., “Rewriting Vietnam” is the first study that brings together both American and French diasporic literatures dealing particularly with South Vietnam and the Vietnamese civil war. The dissertation argues that complex modes of attachment and robust thoughts about the fallen state of South Vietnam permeate the literature of the Vietnamese diaspora. The range of expression for this diasporic national consciousness is vast: it may take subtle forms, or diasporic Vietnamese writers may explicitly confront South Vietnam’s erasure from history and memory. “Revising Vietnam” pursues these expressions and examines their significance within American and francophone literary cultures, two dynamic realms of imagination that have had the most interactions with “Vietnam”—the country and the war—from the late nineteenth century to the present day. This corpus of diasporic literature does more than preserve the Vietnamese past, however; it also questions the present of liberal governmentality in the host states of the U.S. and France while actively speculating on the future of schizophrenic, communist-run capitalist Vietnam. Because this literature emerges and critiques from the marginal space of refugeehood, it also puts pressures on core assumptions about the stability and dominance of the nation-state paradigm today. As the dissertation explores the intellectual sentiments and sensibilities of the Vietnamese diaspora through its literary enterprises, it advances the emergent field of critical refugee studies and engages with scholarships in political theory of the nation-state, Vietnamese area studies, U.S. diplomatic studies, Vietnam War historiography, Asian American studies, and Francophone studies.

Josephine N. Park
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