Archives par mot-clé : Vietnamese Diaspora

Ma tonkinoise, Hanaë Bossaert (podcast)

“Ma Tonkinoise”, reprise par Joséphine Baker, c’est la chanson que fredonnait souvent Gisèle, la grand-mère de Hanaë. Cette chanson, qui est censée être la chanson d’amour de jeunesse de Gisèle, raconte en fait la réalité coloniale de la relation entre un homme français et sa conquête vietnamienne. En tirant le fil de son histoire familiale, de Saigon en 1954 à Marseille en 2024, Hanaë se confronte à l’amnésie et ses conséquences, comme l’oubli de la langue, des rites, de la culture et finalement des mémoires historiques et intimes. Alors est-il encore possible de sauver les mémoires de l’Indochine française ? Injustices revient avec une nouvelle saison, Ma Tonkinoise, de Hanaë Bossert, dès le 1er février 2024.

Injustices est un podcast qui décortique les injustices structurelles. La saison 7 intitulée “Ma Tonkinoise” est une enquête familiale dans les mémoires enfouies de l’Indochine française, signée par Hanaë Bossert.

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Réalisation sonore : Anne Buy | Montage : Kiana Von Schoen | Chargée de production : Louise Hemmerlé | Attachée de production : Elsa Berthault | Musique : Michael Liot et Saigon Soul Revival | Illustration : Adeline Schöne

Nos mémoires. Vietnam, les enfants oubliés

Résumé des Épisodes :

  1. Sénégal – Fils de Tirailleur
    Auteur : Karfa Diallo
    Ce récit poignant, écrit par Karfa Diallo, explore la lutte d’Abdoulaye Diallo, un tirailleur sénégalais, pour obtenir la reconnaissance et la pension méritées de la France. Les contributions et sacrifices des 300 000 hommes africains de l’Ouest, combattants dans l’armée française, sont soulignés.
  2. Martinique – L’Île Empoisonnée
    Autrice : Léa Mormin-Chauvac
    Léa Mormin-Chauvac dévoile l’histoire dramatique de la Martinique, marquée par l’utilisation massive du pesticide Chlordécone. Cet épisode met en lumière les conséquences sanitaires à long terme et le combat pour l’interdiction de ce produit toxique.
  3. Vietnam – Les Enfants Oubliés
    Auteur : Louis Raymond
    Louis Raymond nous plonge dans le récit de Néjame Aboubakar et d’autres enfants d’Indochine, rapatriés en France. Leur intégration forcée et la perte de leur culture natale sont évoquées, ainsi que la transmission mémorielle de cette expérience d’exil et de déracinement.
  4. Polynésie – Le Mirage Nucléaire
    Autrice : Titaua Peu
    Titaua Peu raconte les impacts de 193 essais nucléaires en Polynésie française. Elle aborde la promesse illusoire du progrès et les conséquences environnementales et sanitaires, dévoilant une réalité souvent occultée.
  5. Guyane – Atteinte à la Sûreté de l’État
    Autrice : Lauriane Nembrot
    Lauriane Nembrot explore les dynamiques de l’indépendantisme guyanais et la répression étatique française. L’épisode soulève des questions sur le statut administratif de la Guyane et son histoire marquée par les conflits politiques.



Regarder Ru, point de vue de Pascal Huynh [ressource]

Dans ce texte d’opinion, Pascal Huynh partage ses impressions après avoir vu l’adaptation au cinéma du roman Ru de Kim Thuy.

Lire aussi Habiter au Vietnam pour se décoloniser – Pascal Huynh

Voir cette contribution sur la carte ASIan MIGration MAP.

Emilie Tôn’s debut novel [EN]

Des rêves d’or et d’acier is a novel written by Emilie Tôn, published at the end of 2022 by a small, emerging publishing house, Hors d’atteinte, which describes itself as feminist and wants to contribute to emancipatory struggles. As I was finishing writing my thesis on family memory issues among people of Vietnamese origin, this biography of a Cham Vietnamese refugee in eastern France, compiled and written by his daughter, obviously caught my attention. While it’s clearly not the first testimony of its kind, what interests me is both the book as a narrative and the act of writing down the memory, especially as it is staged.

Passing on dreams and hopes

The book recounts the exile of the main character, Liêm, from Vietnam to France, through Cambodia and Thailand. Between the gold symbolising carefree childhood and the steel referring to the factories in Lorraine, we follow the misfortunes, hopes and tragic fate of one man, one family and millions of refugees. The progression is chronological and geographical. The first part takes us to pre-1975 Vietnam through the eyes of a child, the second takes us through Cambodia and dwells on life in the refugee camps in Thailand, while the final part brings us into the daily life of the immigrant man that the child has become.

Although the story is constructed like a novel, the author is also present as the narrator, and the back and forth between the third-person action and the personal incisions add a very pleasant rhythm. The many passages in italics take us outside of the plot, behind the scenes of the writing, close to the author, who is seen as much as a daughter as an investigator. One might think that Liêm’s itinerary would be enough to make a novel, so many adventures and twists give consistency to the narrative. However, the book is also a reflection on the importance of memory and its impact on the current lives of younger generations. The author says that what motivates her is to explore the life of her father, “this anonymous hero”, in order to better understand who he is today, particularly in his fathering skills. In this way, the narrative becomes the subject of a personal memory that is scrutinised, for example, from the point of view of mental health. Finally, although the author-narrator is in the background, she subtly questions her own destiny, her own trajectory within the family line and within her father’s migratory journey. Ultimately, the question of the place of parents and second generations is always there, as an implicit and sometimes explicit issue when Émilie confides about her doubts about pursuing higher education because of her social background. The book looks at how dreams and hopes are passed on.

Narrative identities

The story begins with a description of a television sequence, which is not trivial. The writing is very direct, effective and precise, leading readers to question their own judgement. Is this linked to the fact that the author is a journalist? I simply notice how easily the images come to us when we read. The descriptions are there to set the scene against which the actions unfold. In a way, the book is written like a film. The cinematic style questions the way we perceive the narrative and the story. The author herself says that it was through Hollywood that she first discovered the war. The way we think about the history of Vietnam and periods of war, even through family accounts, is inevitably imbued with this American imagination. It is precisely for this reason that we need to propose other narratives, other stories to rethink history.

This great history, the backdrop to the father’s adventures, is finely recounted and documented to enable an uninformed audience to grasp the political issues that underpin the situations described. From this point of view, it is the rigour and journalistic precision that give the novel an educational dimension, or make it accessible in any case. This documentary dimension raises questions about the value placed on testimony and the place of personal memory. As Sabine Huynh writes in Elvis à la radio about her childhood memories and memory in general, the true and the false are always mixed up. Our memories are constantly being reproduced, recomposed and rewritten. But this should not weaken the stories, which are always in some way sincere, faithful to the moments in which they are told. This is where the work of history is necessary, in order to compose, from different sources, what is true or at least plausible.

From a sociological point of view, the narrative is first and foremost about the person telling it, insofar as that person is telling themselves. As a novel, the father is a character we seek to understand in the construction of himself, in his choices and in the way in which history and the societies through which he passes condition his trajectory, how he fights for his free will. The memories he recounts, imprecise or incomplete, reflect the imperfection of the person he is, and convey his “truth”. In this respect, the character is a good illustration of the concept of narrative identity developed by Paul Ricœur, i.e. the idea that we are only what we want to tell others and ourselves about ourselves. To say this is not to delegitimise history, but to question our relationship to truth and fiction, at a time in the creative process when works ‘drawn from a true story’ are received differently from works of pure fiction.

Singular and universal fates

This book also deals with the dynamics of memory transmission. It is often said that Asian people in general don’t talk, don’t confide, and this trait is attributed both to the culture perceived as “Confucian” and to the psychology of trauma. Here, we have a fine counter-example in the form of a father who “likes to tell stories” and is critical of the notion of trauma as a “French thing”, even though without him, of course, the story on which the book is based would never have come into being. The question I asked myself in my work on the sociology of the transmission of identity was rather how to liberate and circulate this voice. What are the conditions that encourage the circulation of stories between parents and children?

Of course, not everyone is as talkative as her father, and not everyone has the ability to collect oral memory and turn it into a book. But in our generation there is a growing desire to tell the stories of our forebears and loved ones before they get lost.

Returning to the homeland is crucial to understanding memories and anecdotes. Here too, like a whole generation born abroad, Emilie Tôn discovers a territory, rediscovers the culture, the local cuisine and then a certain way of staging the memory. As in Mai’s self-published graphic novel Vê, in which she recounts her return, visits to national museums are an opportunity to approach other discourses, other narratives, to confront other images and other imaginaries with which there was a distance. The experience of returning is crucial, as the author writes in black and white: “I was nineteen at the time, visiting Vietnam for the first time, and what I saw left me speechless”. Her internship in Cambodia gave her a little time to explore the region, and the territory, the site of a collective memory, was the perfect alibi for getting the father to talk:

“The mood is one of confidence. I try to project myself into my father’s story, to follow in his footsteps. I ask him:

– Has Cambodia always been like this?

– You can’t even imagine.

In this novel, we read, feel and sense the closeness of a father and daughter. However, while writing may appear to be the best pretext for transmission, we must be wary of idealising postures. When she wants to share information about a specific time and place in her exile, her enthusiasm for unravelling the past contrasts with his desire to forget about it. “I hasten to share this interesting information with my father. But he doesn’t understand my approach: “I never wanted to be there. Why would you want to go?

This novel is one in a series of works by new generations of people of immigrant descent in the broadest sense. It reflects the spirit of an era, of young people seeking to make the most of a dense and complex heritage that combines national history, family memory, cultural traditions and new perspectives on racial identity, family and intergenerational relations, transmission and all that goes with it.

We still more or less know the broad outlines of national histories. With stories like this one, or like the recent graphic novel Sống by Mai Anh and Pauline Guitton, or the books by Marcelino Truong and Clément Baloup before him, we immerse ourselves in the materiality of the past based on concrete, embodied lives, and let ourselves be affected by destinies that are always both singular and universal.

Emilie Tôn, Des rêves d’or et d’acier, Hors d’atteinte, 2022, 400 pages

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.

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

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

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