Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog

Always rethinking the Southeast Asian past

Southeast Asian Studies, ASEAN and Western Scholarship

A few days ago I had the pleasure of attending two panels on “Emerging and Continuing Trends in Southeast Asian Studies” at The 10th International Convention of Asian Scholars that was held in Chiang Mai. Those panels made me think a lot about Southeast Asian Studies in Southeast Asia.

Then this morning I was reminded of those two panels when I came across a paper (in Vietnamese) that had just been uploaded to the Internet called “Vietnam at the Crossroad of Area and Global Studies: Vietnamese Knowledge on Southeast Asia and New Approaches.”

Continue reading “Southeast Asian Studies, ASEAN and Western Scholarship”

The (Complex) Power of Empty Rooms

In the previous post I wrote about an impression that one can get from viewing the interior design of the Independence Palace (Dinh Độc Lập) in Saigon.

Viewing the rooms in the bunker (the basement), on the other hand, can bring about other impressions and feelings.

In Honolulu, one can visit the USS Missouri, the ship on which the Japanese, in Tokyo Bay, formally signed the surrender documents that ended World War II in Asia on September 2, 1945, the very same day that, in Hanoi, Hồ Chí Minh declared Vietnam to be independent.


That ship has many empty rooms like the ones that are in the basement of the Independence Palace.

In both cases, those empty rooms can elicit complex feelings.

I have seen many pictures of Independence Palace, but I’d never seen those empty rooms until I visited this historical site. Below are some pictures that I took of those rooms.

They are as important to this building as the official meeting rooms and the hip entertainment room. Continue reading “The (Complex) Power of Empty Rooms”

The (Tropical) Coolness of Independence Palace

As someone who is interested in architecture and “coolness,” I decided to spend some time this summer looking at the Independence Palace (Dinh Độc Lập) in Saigon, as this is a structure that was clearly built to be cool.

Continue reading “The (Tropical) Coolness of Independence Palace”

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:

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