Archives par étiquette : Vietnamese Diaspora

Sociologie du retour de la diaspora vietnamienne (9) – Identités : race, classe, genre

Cette série de recensions s’intéresse aux publications scientifiques concernant la diaspora vietnamienne qui retourne au Vietnam.
Lecture de “Achieving ethnic authenticity through ‘return’ visits to Vietnam: paradoxes of class and gender among the Britishborn Vietnamese” de Tamsin Barber.
Pour voir tous les articles de cette série, cliquez ici.

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Sociologie du retour de la diaspora vietnamienne (7) – installation, appartenance et sécurité

Cette série de recensions s’intéresse aux publications scientifiques concernant la diaspora vietnamienne qui retourne au Vietnam.
Lecture de « You Can Come Home Again: Narratives of Home and Belonging among Second-Generation Việt Kiều in Vietnam » de Priscilla Koh.
Pour voir tous les articles de cette série, cliquez ici. Continuer la lecture

Diaspora vietnamienne en Australie | Australian Vietnamese Diaspora

Cette série de vidéos est produite par une communauté vietnamienne d’Australie.

Les familles qui témoignent sont réfugiées. On y évoque la façon dont l’expérience d’une génération affecte la suivante.

Cet épisode décrit la situation classique des familles réfugiées vietnamiennes, qui ont fui le régime communiste. La grand-mère insiste sur l’importance de préserver les traditions, la culture, et notamment la langue. Plus loin, un de ses petits-fils reconnaît qu’avoir appris à parler et écrire, lire la langue lui aura permis de mieux apprécier la culture.

Un des garçons de la fratrie explique que son identité de Vietnamien fait partie de lui, que “c’est l’histoire, c’est de là d’où il vient”. Un autre insiste sur le fait d’honorer les ancêtres. Un peu plus loin, il conseille d’écouter les parents raconter leur histoire qui n’est pas seulement la leur mais aussi celle des enfants, celle de la famille.

Remarquons comment la mère rappelle son appartenance au Vietnam, par la tradition : Cháu Lạc Long Quân Âu Cơ, ce qui signifie qu’elle est la descendante du Dragon et de la Fée, selon la mythologie vietnamienne. Les différentes générations tentent de définir leur double identité, double appartenance au Vietnam et à l’Australie.

Au début de la vidéo, Lin Sun explique comment la relation qu’il avait avec ses parents a changé à mesure qu’il a grandit, qu’il est devenu père de famille lui-même. On évoque l’éducation stricte des parents, qui est décrite comme asiatique. La deuxième génération essaie de comprendre la perspective de la génération précédente.

Une musique plutôt dramatique dans le fond d’interviews entre les parents de la première génération et les enfants de la suivante. Nous sommes en Australie et les thématiques sont toujours les mêmes : identité, race, intégration, exil, transmission de la culture, trauma, etc. La vidéo part de la dance des lions, de l’art martial vietnamien, Vovinam, et le jeune Australien-Vietnamien explique en quoi leur pratique lui a permis d’apprécier son héritage culturel. Les témoignages racontent la difficulté pour les parents à travailler, à parler la langue, à réunir suffisamment d’argent pour mettre à leurs enfants de poursuivre des études. Elvis fait alors des études de médecine mais rêve de devenir acteur et veut inspirer sa génération et la suivante, montrer que même pour un Vietnamien, un descendant d’immigré, c’est possible de percer.

“Everything that they went through, it forms my identity too”. (7:06)

Tout ce qu’ils ont traversé, ça forge mon identité aussi, dit-il, en évoquant les difficultés de ses parents, leurs traumas. Une courte vidéo qui met l’accent sur les déterminismes sociaux autant que sur le libre-arbitre d’une génération qui veut définir son identité.



Hiếu – Richard Van [EN]

Hiếu is a short film by director Richard Van, named after the character he briefly portrays. This snapshot of life provides an opportunity to showcase several aspects, aspirations specific to people of Vietnamese origin, several characteristics that I would like to dwell on for a few moments by focusing on three images, three key moments in the film.

American Dream

Must be a millionaire right?

In this picture we see Hiếu from behind, facing a group of Vietnamese Americans who came to listen to him. He is looking to recruit “collaborators” for his business of selling any kind of products, in this case, probably food products. He questions several people from his audience and asks them three things: what job they do, since when and if they have become millionaires. In this scene, we have a condensed version of the “American dream” in both its classic and modern versions, if any difference is relevant. Like many migrants, arriving in a new country means “starting from scratch”, a loss of economic and social capital. The priority for all the first generation is therefore to find a job in order to provide for their primary needs and to be able to pass on to the next generation the financial means to “take off” socially.
We see, among the characters who come to listen to our protagonist, rather old men and women who have low-skilled jobs with low wages: worker, employee, esthetician, etc.

It is interesting to note that solidarity within the community is also staged. For practical reasons, because one speaks the same language, because one has the same background, because one has been put in touch with trusted acquaintances, etc., one can hope to rely on one’s community members to do business.You can expect to rely on the members of your community to do business. It was this sense of solidarity that drew the audience to hear a Vietnamese man talk about money-making opportunities (and also the lure of money). This feeling also has its limits, since once the presentation is over, nobody seems convinced.

There is a sense of the fallen American dream in the staging of these people. These people have come to listen to a speech to earn money because they aspire, because they have aspired to become rich by living in one of the richest countries in the world. On the other side, there is a smooth talker who tries to convince himself as much as his audience that he can still get rich thanks to a new pyramid business system. We later learn that he has no place to sleep. In short, he is a loser and this is what makes this film so interesting. It succeeds in bringing a fairly accurate vision of this situation, which is neither that of the poverty of the migrant unable to integrate nor that of the luxurious abundance of the self-made man, who stands out from the model minority, and whose success proves the efficiency of the social system. We are here exactly between the two, showing how long and difficult economic integration is, how much sacrifice is required and how even when we incorporate the discourse and practices of the most “modern” businesses, nothing is guaranteed. In short, here, it is a question of connecting the situation of this person as an immigrant, with his or her initial capital and aspirations, but also as a member of a social class that goes beyond his or her origin and maintains a mass of people in the precariousness depicted.

Being eager to “come back there”

Dung asked me if I was going back there


From the very beginning of the film, one of the most popular songs from southern Vietnam, Sài Gòn đẹp lắm, serves as a pretext to trigger a discussion about Vietnam left behind at the time of exile with, without fully stating it. It is an obvious one, the tension between nostalgia and longing for return for the man and a kind of indifference and contempt on the part of his wife. Is this the reason for their separation? In any case, the two characters will continue to embody these two ideals, these two opposing relationships to Vietnam or the United States, as can be seen in this image in the kitchen.

The film holds this tension experienced and embodied by Hiếu who does not find his place here in the United States and wonders if he would be better off returning to his native country. A few years later, when he visits his wife and son, he shares this lingering doubt. He shares with his ex-wife the example of a comrade who returned “over there”.

This “over there” which is evident for him, does not evoke anything anymore for her though, who, at least in appearance, does not understand of which place he speaks. This is very powerful and shows once again how two imaginations, two postures oppose each other. For him, Vietnam is so present in his life here, that if he speaks of a return of any kind it is necessarily there. For her, this country she left no longer exists and there is no question of considering setting foot on this now unknown territory. She embodies integration and somehow oblivion, or at least acceptance, as emphasized by her new white companion.

This tension that opposes them is not as binary and frontal as one might think. The man, who is looking for his place, is summoned by his ex-wife to recover the last things he left at her place. Between the two of them, let’s not forget to mention the son, Brian, who also embodies this tension between these two parental poles.

I’m gonna go, okay?


The last scene is very tense. Locked in the room and not responding, his ex-wife and their son imagine the worst. Once they enter the room, they find him asleep. Sorry, he resigns himself to leave. Go where? Go back to that friend he’s been squatting with? Go back to Vietnam like Dung? We don’t know exactly, this sentence means anything.

He accepts his situation, he gives up his dreams, he lets it up.

There are obviously many more filmic elements to analyze, but these are the main ones that deal with this dynamic of memory and identity in the American diasporic context.

If you haven’t seen it yet:

Depicting heroic lifes of the Vietnamese Diaspora, interview with Clement Baloup

On Thursday, December 3, 2020, I had the pleasure to discuss with Clément Baloup, cartoonist, illustrator, graphic novelist and author of a series of graphic novels dedicated to the stories of the Vietnamese diasporas. As a PhD student interested in memory dynamics within families of Vietnamese origin, I take this opportunity to interview him about his personal experience, but I am especially interested in his work as a researcher. The author, who has just published his fifth book in that series, shares his work process, his encounters with the protagonists of the stories but also with his readership. The discussion is therefore structured around the idea of telling good stories that are inspired and documented by the lives of those who have made and are still making history. His latest album – which you must absolutely get to complete your collection – “Les Engagés de Nouvelle-Calédonie”, is published in French by La Boîte à Bulles. Continuer la lecture