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Liam Kelley: Report on the Engaging With Vietnam [6th Conference]

[ndlr] Compte-rendu de la 6e Conférence Engaging with Vietnam qui s’est déroulée les 6 et 7 novembre à l’Université d’Oregon aux Etats-Unis en présence des meilleurs spécialistes du Viêt-Nam. Le Compte-rendu, rédigé par le chercheur Liam C. Kelley, a été publié initialement sur la liste des abonnés de VSG. Nous remercions l’auteur pour son aimable autorisation.


While everything is still fresh in my mind, I thought that I would report on the Engaging With Vietnam – An Interdisciplinary Dialogue conference that was held last week at the University of Oregon. The Engaging With Vietnam initiative was founded in 2009 by Phan Le Ha (then at Monash University, now at the University of Hawaii). This past conference was the sixth time that this conference has been held, and the first time that it has been held in the continental US (previous conferences have been held in Vietnam, Australia, and Hawaii).

The Engaging With Vietnam conference currently enjoys the continuing support of the University of Hawaii, but it partners each year with another supporting university. For this sixth conference, Tuong Vu of the University of Oregon served as a co-organizer, and the University of Oregon generously co-sponsored and hosted the conference.

The Engaging With Vietnam conference has created a niche as a “mid-sized” conference. It is big enough to be interdisciplinary and to deal with multiple topics, but small enough so that people from different disciplines can actually interact and learn from each other. Further, the format of the conference is somewhat unique in that it mixes several keynote sessions (which all of the conference participants are encouraged to attend) with breakout sessions. The keynote speakers are encouraged to address the theme of the conference, which this year was “Frontiers and Peripheries: Vietnam Deconstructed and Reconnected,” and the idea is that by bringing people together several times over the course of the conference, a “dialog” can be created between the disciplines, and that ideas that are presented during the keynote sessions can be referred to and brought into play in the breakout sessions.

I would like to report briefly here on the keynote sessions (I obviously could not attend simultaneous breakout sessions, and therefore, it would be unfair for me to only report on the ones I attended).

The first day had an emphasis on historical scholarship. The first keynote session featured Chris Goscha and Tuong Vu. Chris Goscha spoke about the new historical survey of modern Vietnamese history that he is writing, while Tuong Vu presented his own narrative of the Vietnamese past. Both of these scholars presented what one might call “counter narratives” to the way that Vietnamese history has long been presented in both English and Vietnamese language histories.

Later in the first day there was another panel that focused more specifically on the 1950s and 1960s featuring Peter Zinoman, Nu-Anh Tran and Nguyen Tuan Cuong. Peter Zinoman re-examined the Nhan Van Giai Pham affair from the perspective of sources that he recently discovered in the archives. Nu-Anh Tran examined the anticommunist narrative that emerged in South Vietnam in the 1950s. And Nguyen Tuan Cuong discussed Nguyen Dang Thuc’s promotion of Confucianism in the context of decolonization in South Vietnam between 1955 and 1975.

The second day began with a keynote session on contemporary issues. Eric Harms presented his research on the new urban zone of Phu My Huong. Kimberly Hoang presented a paper that examined ways in which different aspects of the sex industry in Vietnam connect to perceptions of Asian ascendancy and Western decline. And Angie Ngoc Tran looked comparatively at the labor migrations of Vietnamese, Khmer and Cham to Malaysia.

Later on the second day there was a keynote session on education. Dang Van Huan analyzed why it is that there has been a lack of radical change in higher education even though many conditions for change exist. Phan Le Ha, meanwhile, examined the position of Western universities in Vietnam, and highlighted some of the contradictions surrounding the promotion of “Western education.”

The second day then ended with a presentation by Janet Hoskins on the role of Victor Hugo in the Cao Dai religion, and a presentation by William Chapman on the French archaeologists of the EFEO as “adjuncts of empire.”

These comments here of course do not do justice to the complexity of the ideas that were presented. Nonetheless, I hope that these brief comments will at least make it clear that these were stimulating and enlightening presentations, and that these scholars all presented ideas that we can certainly say are on the “frontier” of our knowledge about Vietnam.

There were more keynote speakers this year who presented on historical topics than has been the case in the past. Next year the conference will hopefully be held in Vietnam, and there will likely be a different emphasis in the keynote sessions at that conference, as this conference does not aim to repeat itself, but instead, to always welcome change.

As one of the co-organizers, I would like to thank once again the other co-organizers, Phan Le Ha and Tuong Vu, as well as the supporting universities, the University of Oregon and the University of Hawaii.

Finally, I look forward to seeing many of the people on this list [VSG] at a future Engaging With Vietnam conference.

The full program can be found here:


Liam Kelley (University of Hawaii at Manoa).

The 6th “Engaging with Vietnam – An Interdisciplinary Dialogue” Conference

[ndlr] Nous postons l’annonce tardivement mais cette conférence internationale mérite grandement d’être citée. Présentation de la thématique de la rencontre scientifique par les organisateurs et compte-rendu en vietnamien sur RFA. Cette 6ème rencontre aborde l’histoire et l’espace du Viêt-Nam “déconstruit et reconnecté”. Le Viêt-Nam, ses frontières, ses périphéries, son morcellement ou sa dimension d’Empire régional sont dûment interrogés.

Conference organisation partners:

University of Oregon & University of Hawaii at Manoa – USA


November 5-7, 2014

Eugene, Oregon, USA


Conference Theme:

Frontiers and Peripheries:

Vietnam Deconstructed and Reconnected

This two-day international conference promotes the study of Vietnam and dialogue between diverse communities of Vietnam scholars inside and outside Vietnam. This annual event has been held for five times since 2009 in Vietnam, Australia, and the U.S., co-sponsored by Monash University, Vietnam National University Hanoi, University of Hawaii at Manoa, the East-West Center in Honolulu, and Thai Nguyen University in Thai Nguyen, Vietnam. The Sixth Conference will be held on the beautiful campus of the University of Oregon. The University was founded in 1876 and is a world-class teaching and research university and the flagship university of the state of Oregon. It is located about two hours by car from Portland, Oregon, and one hour by air from San Francisco or Seattle.

One of the key identities of the Engaging with Vietnam Conference is its interdisciplinary research rigor that places scholarship as well as policy-research dialogues at the core of its agendas. It has brought speakers from various fields across the social sciences, Humanities, education, and policy to engage in these questions. Now in its sixth year, the conference has contributed to providing a forum for sharing exciting new research on Vietnam among a rapidly expanding scholarly community. The Sixth Conference will also be among the few general conferences dedicated to Vietnam ever held in continental United States in recent years. It will feature keynote panels consisting of scholars and education leaders speaking directly to the key foci of the conference.

The core theme of the Sixth Engaging with Vietnam conference is “Frontiers and Peripheries: Vietnam Deconstructed and Reconnected.” We invite participants to think of Vietnam not as a self-contained entity as in the conventional way. Instead, we want to deconstruct Vietnam, both as a frontier or periphery of larger entities and as containing in itself distinct frontiers and peripheries. The larger entities of which Vietnam constitutes a periphery or frontier can be some larger geographical/historical/cultural/economic/political zones, such as wet-rice economy, Chinese civilization, the Indo-Malay world, European imperialism, the Roman Catholic Church, Cold War camps, the K-pop wave, transnational social movements, transnational crimes, global capitalism, and diasporic communities.

Some of the questions we are interested in are: Where have Vietnamese situated themselves when they think of the broader world around them? How has Vietnam’s peripheral or frontier status shaped its history, culture, society, politics, and the identities of its people? What characterizes the major patterns of Vietnamese interactions with the center/metropole as well as with other peripheral or frontier areas? While external powers have historically sought to dominate Vietnam, Vietnamese in history and in the contemporary era have themselves sought to colonize other frontiers and peripheries. How have Vietnamese rationalized such events? How do they integrate internal frontiers and peripheries in their thoughts and acts? Can we think of Vietnam as an empire? We hope that this new conceptualization can show aspects of Vietnamese history, culture, economy, and politics in a fresh light.

The following scholars have agreed to participate in keynote panels:

Christopher Goscha (University of Quebec), Erik Harms (Yale), Kimberly Hoang (Boston College), Janet Hoskins (University of Southern California), Benedict Kerkvliet (Australian National University and University of Hawaii Manoa), Bui Tran Phuong (President, Hoa Sen University, Vietnam), Nguyen Tuan Cuong (Vietnam National University, Hanoi), Sandra Morgen (University of Oregon), Michael Singh (University of Western Sydney), Angie Ngoc Tran (California State University, Monterey Bay), Nu-Anh Tran (University of Connecticut), William Chapman (Universityof Hawaii Manoa), and Peter Zinoman (University of California, Berkeley).

Source : Engaging With Vietnam

Programme en PDF : The 6th “Engaging with Vietnam – An Interdisciplinary Dialogue” Conference

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Hội thảo Đồng hành cùng Việt Nam lần 6

Ngày 6/11, tại Đại học Oregon, thành phố Eugene, tiểu bang Oregon diễn ra hội thảo mang tên Đồng hành cùng Việt Nam. Đây là lần thứ sáu cuộc hội thảo thường niên này được tổ chức nhằm tổ chức trao đổi những ý kiến, quan điểm khác nhau về Việt Nam.

Mở đầu là lời đón chào của ông Dennis Galvan phụ trách các vấn đề đối ngọai của đại học Oregon gửi đến hơn 40 học giả, nhà nghiên cứu về Việt Nam đến từ khắp nơi trên thế giới, trong đó có nhiều người đến từ Việt Nam. Ông Galvan cũng nhấn mạnh đến vai trò ngày càng tăng của vùng châu Á Thái Bình Dương mà Việt Nam là một thành viên quan trọng.

Lịch sử

Buổi hội thảo bắt đầu bằng các bài phát biểu về lịch sử Việt Nam của Tiến sĩ Vũ tường từ Đại học Oregon và Tiến sĩ Christopher Goscha từ Đại học Quebec [tại Montreal], Canada.

Tiến sĩ Goscha cho rằng nước Việt Nam hiện tại có nguồn gốc rất đa dạng gồm nhiều phần đất khác nhau với những lịch sử phát triển khác nhau.

Tiến sĩ Vũ Tường thì trình bày về lịch sử của quốc gia Việt Nam như là một đế quốc, có một quan hệ phức tạp với một đế quốc hàng đầu là đế quốc Trung Hoa. Ông so sánh quan hệ giữa quốc gia Việt Nam với đế quốc Trung Hoa cũng giống như quan hệ giữa các quốc gia cộng sản Đông Âu với đế quốc Xô Viết, mặc dù rất lệ thuộc nhưng đế quốc Xô Viết không phải là người thống trị các quốc gia đó.

Ông Vũ Tường cũng đề cập đến những nhà lãnh đạo Việt Nam trong quá khứ và hiện tại có sử dụng đến sức mạnh của đế quốc Trung Hoa để giải quyết chuyện nội bộ của mình, nhưng đồng thời cũng thách thức đế quốc Trung Hoa. Ông dẫn chứng trường hợp ông Lê Duẩn, trong thời kỳ Việt Nam xung đột với Trung Quốc.

Read more / Lire la suite : RFA, 07/11/2014.