Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog

Always rethinking the Southeast Asian past

The Engaging With Vietnam Conference Theme

I’m posting this information here for people who view this blog but who do not follow the Engaging With Vietnam Facebook page.

These two videos explain about the theme for the upcoming Engaging With Vietnam conference. One is a tired version and one is an upbeat version, but the content is the same.


Updating Trần Trọng Dương

A year ago I made some videos of a conversation with scholar Trần Trọng Dương. I recently “updated” those videos by improving the quality of the sound and images.

There are still two videos from this conversation that I have not completed yet, but here are the other seven.

Continue reading “Updating Trần Trọng Dương”

Sihanouk’s “Glory to Our Arab and African Brothers”

Among the many musical compositions that Norodom Sihanouk composed was a piece called “Glory to Our Arab and African Brothers.”

It would appear that this was a piece that Sihanouk composed while he was living in Beijing and Pyongyang in the 1970s, when he was allied with the Khmer Rouge.

Here is a re-creation of this song and an English translation of the lyrics.

Continue reading “Sihanouk’s “Glory to Our Arab and African Brothers””

Sihanouk’s “Korea and Cambodia Are Revolutionary Comrades-in-Arms”

After Cambodian Head of State Norodom Sihanouk was overthrown in 1970, he took up residence in Beijing, China and Pyongyang, North Korea.

I’ve always wondered what Sihanouk did in those places, and now I know. . . He composed music!

Continue reading “Sihanouk’s “Korea and Cambodia Are Revolutionary Comrades-in-Arms””

Sihanouk’s “Thank You, Hồ Chí Minh Trail” (1973)

In 1970, the head of state of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk, was overthrown by one of his military officers, Lon Nol.

Sihanouk, who had declared Cambodia to be a neutral state, was in Moscow at the time. He then flew to Beijing. In Beijing, Premier Minister Zhou Enlai summoned Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng, and together they convinced Sihanouk to form a government-in-exile and resist Lon Nol.

Sihanouk proceeded to do so, and in the process, he decided to support a group that was also opposed to Lon Nol, the Khmer Rouge.

Continue reading “Sihanouk’s “Thank You, Hồ Chí Minh Trail” (1973)”

Updating the Trưng Sisters

Here are updated versions of the final two videos that I made about the Trưng Sisters in 2014.

Part 3:

Part 4:

A World War II Annam Anthem (Đăng Đàn)

One period of Vietnamese history that I find fascinating is World War II. During the War, Vietnam was occupied by the Japanese, but for most of the war the Japanese left the French in power.

France, however, had been occupied by the Germans, so the French colonial officials in Indochina during the war were part of a collaborating government known as Vichy France.

Vichy France was led by Philippe Pétain, a military man and authoritarian. He sent Admiral Jean Decoux to Indochina to promote his authoritarian agenda and to try to keep the Japanese from gaining influence among the Vietnamese.

Continue reading “A World War II Annam Anthem (Đăng Đàn)”

59 Years of English-Language Scholarship on Vietnamese History

While reading Christopher Goscha’s new survey of Vietnamese history, Vietnam: A New History, I decided to go back and read the first survey of Vietnamese history in English, Joseph Buttinger’s 1958 work The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam.

Buttinger was an interesting person. Born in Austria, he quit school at age 13 and got involved in underground politics. During World War II he started to work for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an organization that at that time was helping war refugees.

In 1954, Buttinger worked for the IRC where hundreds of thousands of refugees were arriving from the North. He became interested in Vietnam at that time and start reading about.

Four year later he published The Smaller Dragon.

Continue reading “59 Years of English-Language Scholarship on Vietnamese History”

Colonial Republicanism and the Revolutionary Narrative of Modern Vietnamese History

I used to teach a course on modern Vietnamese history (19th and 20th centuries), but I stopped teaching it a few years ago because I got really bored with it.

I got bored of the general narrative of Vietnamese history that I was presenting to students. The way I was teaching Vietnamese history is the way that I suspect a lot of people in North America teach it (or have taught it), and that is to see a pretty sudden decline of “traditional” Vietnam and the gradual emergence of a modern Vietnam.

Topics covered in the first half of the course included ones such as the following:

Continue reading “Colonial Republicanism and the Revolutionary Narrative of Modern Vietnamese History”

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