Archives par mot-clé : Vietnamese Studies

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.



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

Quelles histoires se cachent derrière nos noms ? [ENQUÊTE EN LIGNE]


Les premiers résultats de l’enquête et les réponses sur la question des noms et prénoms montre une nette différence entre les personnes francophones majoritairement françaises et anglophones majoritairement états-uniennes. Cela s’expliquerait par l’âge des personnes et l’histoire de leurs trajectoires.

Et vous ? Quelle histoire se cache derrière votre nom ou prénom ?

Vous pouvez toujours contribuer à l’enquête en ligne :

Et partagez vos histoires de noms et prénoms sur la page :

Ou écrivez à l’adresse suivante :[at]

Ressembler à l’ennemi : race et l’héritage de la guerre du Vietnam (notes) – FR

11 November  2020 — Un groupe d’experts explore les répercussions du conflit vietnamien-américain dans les deux pays, depuis le conflit jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Les intervenants présents sont  Roger Harris, Karen L. Ishizuka, Lynn Novick, et Viet Thanh Nguyen. La discussion est facilitée par Michelle Yun Mapplethorpe, directrice artistique de la Asia Society Triennial et directrice de la Asia Society Museum à New York.  L’échange dure 1h03 et voici quelques citations les plus importantes.

Continuer la lecture de Ressembler à l’ennemi : race et l’héritage de la guerre du Vietnam (notes) – FR

Looking Like the Enemy: Race and the Legacy of the Vietnam War (notes) – EN

November 11, 2020 — A group of experts explores the reverberations of the American-Vietnam War across the two countries’ cultures from the war’s outset to the present day. Speakers include Roger Harris, Karen L. Ishizuka, Lynn Novick, and Viet Thanh Nguyen. The conversation was moderated by Michelle Yun Mapplethorpe, artistic director of the Asia Society Triennial and director of the Asia Society Museum in New York. (1 hr., 3 min.)

Continuer la lecture de Looking Like the Enemy: Race and the Legacy of the Vietnam War (notes) – EN

The pain is not over – Mixed-race children from the Vietnamese war (translation)

Mixed-race Vietnamese people who have an American father, born in the Vietnam War before 1975 are estimated to be more than 25,000 people. Nearly half a century has passed, most of them have found their biological father, settled in the US but hundreds of other them are still languishing to find theirs, looking forward to reuniting.
This investigation divided into four articles (from the newspaper Thanh Nien, December 2019) shows us what is the reality of these mixed-race children of the war, and their struggle to find their biological fathers.
Author : Quang Viên
Translation : Le Hoangan Julien
Proofreading, Editing : Gabrielle Trúc Cohen

Continuer la lecture de The pain is not over – Mixed-race children from the Vietnamese war (translation)