The Yue/Việt Migration Theory and the “Hidden Network Approach”

There was a theory that emerged in the early twentieth century which argued that at the end of the first millennium BC, Vietnamese migrated to the Red River delta from an original homeland in what is today southeastern China.

This idea was suggested first by Edouard Chavannes in 1901, and was then developed further by Leonard Aurousseau in 1923. Today this theory is no longer upheld, although one can still find it mentioned. Nonetheless, I don’t think that many people are aware of why this theory does not make sense.

In postcolonial Vietnam this theory came to be rejected as “colonial,” I guess because of its claim that the Vietnamese come from a place outside of Vietnam. However, I don’t find that saying that scholarship is “colonial” explains much.

Yes, there were problems with the scholarship of Chavannes and Aurousseau, but I don’t attribute those problems to a “colonial” outlook. Instead, the problems were due at times to careless scholarship, but also to what I would call a flawed methodology that we can perhaps call the “hidden network approach” to viewing the past.

cover

In a footnote in the fourth volume of his 5-volume translation of Sima Qian’s Historical Records (Shiji 史記), Edouard Chavannes put forth the theory that the “Annamite race” is descended from the people of the ancient kingdom of Yue (Việt). That kingdom occupied the area of what is today the northern part of Zhejiang Province, and it was destroyed in the fourth century BC by the kingdom of Chu.

After that, according to Chavannes, there were multiple polities that formed from “the debris” of the kingdom of Yue, such as Nanyue in the area of what is now Guangdong Province, Minyue in present-day Fujian Province, and Yuedonghai in what is now Zhejiang Province.

vol 4 page 418

Chavannes argues that “these principalities certainly relate to the Annamite race,” and he offers two pieces of evidence to support this claim.

First, he cites Trương Vĩnh Ký’s 1875 Cours d’histoire annamite to claim that Annamite historians regarded the “princes of Nanyue/Nam Việt” as forming the third dynasty of “Annam.”

Second he notes that the capital of the kingdom of Yuedonghai was Dong’ou/Đông Âu (literally, “Eastern Ou/Âu”), and then he cites Gustave Dumoutier’s Étude historique et archéologique sur Co-Loa, capitale de l’ancien royaume de Âu Lạc (255-207 av. J.-C.) (Paris, E. Leroux, 1893), to note that Annamite historians say that there was an Annamite kingdom called Xi Ou/Tây Âu (literally, “Western Ou/Âu) which had as its capital, Cổ Loa, in the Red River delta.

Based on the above information, Chavannes concludes that Dong’ou/Đông Âu, Nanyue/Nam Việt and Xi Ou/Tây Âu were all part of a single Annamite race.

Dumoutier

There are numerous problems with Chavannes’s ideas here. First, the “princes of Nanyue/Nam Việt” that Chavanne refers to were Zhao Tuo and his descendents, men who were at least originally what we would call ethnic Han today, that is, people from areas to the north (Zhao Tuo was from Hebei), and not members of the indigenous population of the region, or related to peoples from the ancient kingdom of Yue. So the fact that this kingdom became part of the Vietnamese historical tradition does not mean that it was “racially” the same,

Second, in his 1893 study of the ancient city of Cổ Loa, Gustave Dumoutier stated that “the geography of Gu Xifeng says that under the Zhou dynasty the country occupied by Giao Chỉ was called Lạc Việt, and under the following Qin Dynasty it took the name of Tây Âu or Âu Lạc.” (pg. 8)

Gu Xifeng is Gu Yewang 顧野王, the author of a sixth-century work called the Territorial Treatise (Yudi zhi 輿地志), and the passage that Dumoutier refers to is mentioned in an eighth century annotation to Sima Qian’s Historical Records. This is what it says:

“The Territorial Treatise states that ‘Jiaozhi/Giao Chỉ during the Zhou was Luoyue/Lạc Việt. During the Qin it was Xi’ou/Tây Âu. They tattoo their bodies and cut their hair to avoid serpents. Xi Ouyue/Tây Âu Lạc was to the southwest of Panyu. Yue/Việt and Oulue/Âu Lạc are all surnamed ‘Mi/Mị.’”

[輿地志云:交趾周時為駱越,秦時曰西甌,文身斷髮避龍。則西甌駱又在番吾之西南。越及甌駱皆羋姓也。]

Shiji

This passage is not very clear in that it contains numerous names. However, we can see that Dumoutier “simplified” it by saying that the area of what is now the Red River delta during the time of the Qin Dynasty was called Tây Âu or Âu Lạc.

Dumoutier did not actually say that Cổ Loa was the capital of Xi’ou/Tây Âu. And he did not say that Annamite historians said that either. However, that is what Chavannes said in his book (by citing page 8 of Dumoutier’s book).

So there is definitely some careless scholarship here. Beyond that, however, the ideas that Chavannes expressed are also problematic. First, he equates geographic names (or the names of kingdoms) with race. If, however, we are going to use the idea of race to look at the past, we know that Zhao Tuo was of a different “race” (I think Chavannes was using the term “race” to mean something closer to what we would today call an “ethnic group”) than many of the peoples he ruled over in his kingdom of Nanyue, so it doesn’t really make sense to equate geographic names with single races.

In addition, there is only one source that we can use to make the claim that the Red River delta during the time of the Qin Dynasty was referred to as Xi’ou/Tây Âu (Gu Yewang’s Territorial Treatise), but 1) that text was compiled centuries later, and 2) given that this text contains so many different names, it’s difficult to see that the term “Xi’ou/Tây Âu” is really significant.

However, for Chavannes, the term “Xi’ou/Tây Âu” (Western Ou/Âu) was very important, as it served as a counterpart to another term Dong’ou/Đông Âu (Eastern Ou/Âu).

nodes and links

This then brings us to what I call the “hidden network approach” to studying the past. If we look at the way that Chavannes presented his ideas, it is as if he was discovering a hidden network of nodes and links in the historical record.

The polities – Yue, Nanyue/Nam Việt, and Xi’ou/Tây Âu – as well as the city, Dong’ou/Đông Âu, all served as nodes which Chavannes then discovered the links connecting them.

Dong’ou/Đông Âu and Xi’ou/Tây Âu were linked by the common term “ou/âu,” as well as by the pairing of “east” and “west.”

Xi’ou/Tây Âu and Nanyue/Nam Việt were linked by the fact that Vietnamese historians saw Nanyue/Nam Việt as the third dynasty in their history.

And then since Nanyue/Nam Việt was connected to Xi’ou/Tây Âu and Xi’ou/Tây Âu was connected to Dong’ou/Đông Âu, then it seemed obvious to Chavannes that Yue must be part of this link as well.

map

I’ve found that scholars like Henri Maspero examined the past in a similar way. To me this approach is overly complex, and it falls apart once people start pointing out problems with some of the links in the network.

So this theory that Chavannes put forth in 1901 had at least three problems with it:

1) It contains some careless mistakes,

2) It is problematic in equating race with place names,

3) It employs an approach to examining the past that is not effective for interpreting the past.

While this theory that Chavannes put forth had these limitations, as I mentioned above, in 1923 Leonard Aurousseau developed it further. In the process, however, Aurousseau did not correct these problems in Chavannes’s theory. I’ll try to write about Aurousseau’s work sometime soon.

40 thoughts on “The Yue/Việt Migration Theory and the “Hidden Network Approach”

  1. Thanks for pointing this out. I was unaware that there are people who try to show that there was writing in Taiwan in antiquity.

    There are people in Vietnam (and I think Korea) who say the same thing about their own lands.

    I find this really fascinating because the people who come up with these arguments want to demonstrate that Taiwan/Vietnam/Korea are all different from China, but they can only do this through reference to Chinese culture. . .

      1. I don’t believe in the nonsense of my nationalists (Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, or Korea, Thailand, Laos, etc.) They all have political agendas.

    1. I think people should look at the results of human migration based DNA. Among the migration streams out of the Rift Valley one stream moved through the Southern part of what is now called the Asian Landmass, they peristed and are known as the Mon people settling along the mountain range of Southeast Asia mainland. Some moved up north toward the area now called the “civilisation state”, i.e. China.
      The northern stream of migration int this “civilisational state came from Central Asia.
      So, may be Le Minh Khai the “goat” should meet up with other “animals” in the Animal Farm for a discussion?

  2. I become sceptical each time there’s any western person who tries to discuss Asian History from what they learned from someone else or what they think is right. Or how their “research” should triumph what some of our researchers already know.

    Didn’t someone ruled it out in the end that Zhao Tuo was only an invader in Vietnam, and his Zhao Dynasty is still considered as Han Dynasty?! To me, His proclaim emperor was only for wealth and power not for the power of loving “his people”.

    I got myself confused as well, when I first thought we are descendant from Yue, but then it doesn’t mean that’s true from what Wikipedia says. And there’s Giao Chi….
    Somewhat still confused.

    1. Thanks for the comment!!

      I don’t think it matters who discusses what history (Westerners discussing Asian history, Asians discussing African history, Africans discussing European history, etc.). All that matters is that people find ways to get closer to historical reality.

      The “Yue migration theory” was closer to reality than anything that anyone in Asia had written up to that point. Before Chavannes came up with that idea, the only information people had about Viet origins was the information in the Dai Viet su ky toan thu about a line of descent from Than Long/Shen Nong to the Hung Kings. That was not reality, and even before the 20th century there were Vietnamese scholars who were skeptical about it.

      The information in the Dai Viet su ky toan thu also talks about a “southward migration.” Perhaps that influenced Chavannes, but whatever the case may be, he looked more closely at the historical record to try to determine what exactly had happened. At that time, he had ideas in his head that people today (at least in the West) no long believe, such as the idea that a place name can tell us the “race” of the people who lived there, and the idea that the term “Yue” actually referred to a related group of peoples.

      So today, for instance, people (in the West) would say that there was no Yue migration, there was no coherent group called the “Yue,” and that the Vietnamese are not part of some larger related group of peoples called the “Bach Viet/Baiyue/Hundred Yue).

      So in the West, people have moved beyond Chavannes. In Asia, and in Vietnam in particular, while people might not believe in the Yue migration theory anymore, they still uphold a lot of the ideas that Chavannes had in his head (which people in the West no longer follow) – such as the idea that place names can tell us something about race/ethnicity, and the idea that the Vietnamese were part of a larger group of related peoples called the Bach Viet/Baiyue/Hundred Yue.

      So “being” Western or Asian isn’t important, in my opinion. It’s whether or not the world of scholarship continues to develop and improve in a given society. A lot of the ideas that people in Vietnam have in their heads come from colonial-era French scholars and European Marxist writers (again, ideas which people in “the West” today no longer follow). What they think has nothing to do with them being “Asian,” but instead, is the result of maintaining a world of scholarship that has not tried to continuously develop/improve itself.

      1. leminhkhai said:
        [QUOTE] So today, for instance, people (in the West) would say that there was no Yue migration, there was no coherent group called the “Yue,” and that the Vietnamese are not part of some larger related group of peoples called the “Bach Viet/Baiyue/Hundred Yue).
        [/QUOTE]

        Actually those ideas are not from the West people, but from dictator Chinese Communist government, who plot Chinese Communist scholars and a few poor knowledge Western scholars to distort the true about Bai Yue.

        Dictator Chinese Communist government also spent money to hire “50 cent army” to spread Chinese Communist’s propagandad on the internet to distort/tell lie that ” there was no Yue migration, there was no coherent group called the “Yue,” and that the Vietnamese are not part of some larger related group of peoples called the “Bach Viet/Baiyue/Hundred Yue”

        Chinese Communist government have used this dirty political trick to brainwash people in order to make Chinese people in southern China forget that their ancestors are Bai Yue and they are cousin of Vietnamese people, because Vietnamese also are descendants of Bai Yue . Dictator Chinese Communist gorvernment never want descendants of Bai Yue in southern China would break out from China Communist to form Independent Yue states. China Communist also never want that Bai Yue people in south China would unite with Vietnamese (also Bai Yue descendents) if China invade Vietnam in the future. Those are reasons why during these years, Chinese Communist gorvernment employ many ways to distort the fact that ancestors of Vietnamese and Chinese in south China are Bai Yue.

        However, Chinese scholars from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and most of Western scholars in history, archaeology and genetic have done a lot of projects about Bai Yue and Bai Yue descendents in south China and Vietnam.

      2. Oh really?? Could you please show me some of this scholarship? From what I’ve read, the Communist Chinese argument is to say that there WAS a coherent group called the Baiyue, and that THEY’VE ALWAYS BEEN CHINESE, and that therefore Guangdong and Guangxi are DEFINITELY part of China. So I’m curious to see this other argument that you mention. Further, as far as I’ve seen, the Vietnamese have been ignored in these arguments, as the goal of the Chinese government is to argue that the current boundaries of the PRC have ancient routes. Again, if I’m wrong about this, please show me some academic articles which show a different perspective.

      3. @Tam Vo

        This is what ultranationalist brainwashing does to your brain.

        The position of Chinese and western scholars, is that the descendants of the Baiyue natives of southern China are the modern day ethnic minorities who still live in southern China, like the Miao (Hmong), Yao (Mien), She people, Tujia, Zhuang, Bouyei, Li people, and Tanka.

        China calls all minorities in China as “Zhongguo ren”, and as part of “Zhongguo”, which is different from Han Chinese ethnicitiy, which is called “Han ren”. Zhuang, Miao, Yao, are “Zhongguo ren” and part of “zhongguo civlization” but not “Han people”.

        Their position is that the modern day Southern Han Chinese (Cantonese, Hakka, Hoklo, Minnan, Teochew) are descendants of northern Han Chinese migrants from northern China who moved to southern China during the great migrations during the Wuhu invasions of northern China in the Eastern Jin dynasty, the turmoil in northern China during the collapse of the Tang dynasty (hence why most southern Han Chinese still call themselves “Tang people”), and the invasion of the Jurchen during the Song dynasty which led to floods of migrations moving from northern to southern China.

        These migrations were registered on government rolls during the Eastern Jin. There were separate yellow and white registers for migrants and locals. There are Cantonese and Minnan clans which can trace their family trees back to northern China.

        Some families have branches in both northern and southern China. The Confucius family has members who fled the Jurchen invasion to southern China to Quzhou while other members of the family stayed behind in Northern China in Shandong. The branches still live in southern and northern China. Are the different branches suddenly different ethnicities because they moved to southern China?

        Cantonese, Minnan, and other southern Han Chinese all called themselves “Hua people” or “Tang people” and traced their origins to northern China’s Yellow River Valley. They NEVER viewed themselves as minorities like the Zhuang. The Cantonese called minorities like the Miao and Yao as “Barbarians” and viewed them as descendants of the Baiyue. They never viewed themselves as a separate people. The very name “Cantonese” in Chinese is “Guangdong ren” (literally “Guangdong province person”) which carries no ethnic connotations. It just means someone who lives in Guangdong. Both northern and southern Han called themselves “Hua people”. Northern Chinese in Korea are called Hua, Southern Chinese in Vietnam are called Hua (Hoa).

        There was a 17th century Cantonese scholar named Qu Dajun who wrote that the descendants of the Baiyue are ethnic minorities, while Cantonese are descendants of northern Han migrants.

        All I can say is that you are really delusional if you believe southern Han Chinese are your “Baiyue brothers”.

        Southern Han like Cantonese have more animosity against Vietnamese than northern Han. Most Northern Han in Beijing could care less about Vietnam.

        It was the entirely southern Han Kingdom of Wu which fought against Ba Trieu, and the entirely Cantonese kingdom of Southern Han which waged war against the Vietnamese at the first battle of Bach Dang River. There were no Northern Han involved at all in those wars.

        If you claim that southern Han are all Sinicized Baiyue, then we can claim southern Vietnamese Kinh people are all Vietnamized and brainwashed Cham and Khmers, and that they need to be “reawakened” to declare their true ethnicity and throw off northern Vietnamese Kinh rule.

        And white Americans are also apparently Native Americans. Since apparently every single Southern Han is a “Baiyue” even when its clear they originated from northern China.

  3. Nationalism and its ugly fellow , chauvinism were invented in the 20th century :they ‘re based on a new historical conception , the nation consisting of a ” essential ” people or ethnie living on roughly the same territory and having an ” essential ” culture , with all three components unchanged ever since the beginning of history or humankind .
    Since then, numerous peoples or ethnies are backward rewriting their history to fit this Procustian frame , ” nationalizing ” the proto – inhabitants of their country ,fictionalzing a continuity between these former cultures and ethnies , grabbing former people ‘ realizations as their own .
    Some VN are still panting to prove the existence of such a ” Vietnamese ” nation , an ” essential ” one , existing ever since , full -bodied , fully -armed like Athena coming out of Zeus ‘ head .
    One should read P. Purdue ‘s book Demythifying China
    https://leminhkhai.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/demystifying-mainland-southeast-asia/
    When I fell upon this article , I felt a huge relief : no more need trying to contrive a all-in -one ( ethnie , territory and culture ) nation
    One should just talk about polities and their history .
    Nowadays every day , a new one is born .As an exemple , how should Kosovo write its history ? It should seem a hard undertaking to anyone who is well versed with the troubled history of theBalkans .
    Turning back to Vietnam , according to this outlook , one should say that a new polity was then born after Ngô Quyen ‘.s victory . That new polity should not bother with preceding peoples , ethnies , whether Zhao tuo ,
    Hùng kings , 2 sisters Trung
    Why burden oneself with a contrived notion of a continuous 1000 year ” chinese domination “?

    1. Actually, I don’t think that new polity did care about any of those things. That came later when some people started to create an imagined past for the kingdom.

      The difference is that they imagined a past for the kingdom, whereas in the 20th century people imagined a past for the nation. So maybe we can talk of “kingdom-ism” and “nationalism.” 🙂

  4. An instance of ” nationalization ” :
    [ The Han MIng were conquered by the Manchus who ruled over “China ” for nearly 300 years . Among numerous
    oppressive measures , the “haircutting order” forced adult Han Chinese men to shave the front of their heads and comb the remaining hair into a queue, on pain of death. The popular description of the order was: “To keep the hair, you lose the head; To keep your head, you cut the hair.” To the Manchus, this policy was a test of loyalty and an aid in distinguishing friend from foe. For the Han Chinese, however, it was a humiliating reminder of Qing authority that challenged traditional Confucian values. The Classic of Filial Piety (Xiaojing) held that “a person’s body and hair, being gifts from one’s parents, are not to be damaged.” Under the Ming dynasty, adult men did not cut their hair but instead wore it in the form of a top-knot . The order triggered strong resistance to Qing rule in Jiangnan and massive killing of ethnic Han Chinese ]
    Today Chinese are doing semantic acrobatics by “nationalizing ” the Manchus , saying they prostrated themselves before the Han culture and
    willingly turned into “Chinese ” , a most laughable asserion
    What would be more fitting to reality is that a new polity was born and this one was a multi ethnic entity whose Manchu ruling class adopted the formal Confucian culture and the Han characcters )
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qing_dynasty
    [ After conquering the Ming, the Qing identified their state as “China” (中國, Zhongguo; “Middle Kingdom”), and referred to it as “Dulimbai Gurun” in Manchu .The Qing equated the lands of the Qing state (including present day Manchuria, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Tibet and other areas) as “China” in both the Chinese and Manchu languages, defining China as a multi-ethnic state, rejecting the idea that China only meant Han areas, proclaiming that both Han and non-Han peoples were part of “China”, using “China” to refer to the Qing in official documents, international treaties, and foreign affairs, and the “Chinese language” (Dulimbai gurun i bithe) referred to Chinese, Manchu, and Mongol languages, and the term “Chinese people” (中國人 Zhongguo ren; Manchu: Dulimbai gurun i niyalma) referred to all Han, Manchus, and Mongol subjects of the Qing .]
    Contrariwise , the Lac viêt were conquered by Han Chinese who became the ruling class and assimilated the natives to the Confucean culture

    1. The majority of the “Manchu Qing army” was made out of Han Chinese Ming defectors. The Qing army which invaded the Ming dynasty in 1644 was made out of majority Han Chinese Bannermen who had defected to the Manchus.

      Han Chinese Generals who defected to the Manchus were given Aisin Gioro Manchu princesses in marriage. The Han Chinese General Li Yongfang received the granddaughter of Manchu leader Nurhaci as his concubine in exchange for surrendering Fushun to the Manchus. Han Chinese soldiers who defected to the Manchus were enrolled in the Eight Banners and married to Manchu women.

      The queue was voluntarily adopted by Han Chinese defectors, and it was a Han defector who suggested to the Manchu leader Dorgon to impose the queue by force on the common population. The Qing soldiers which carried out the “queue order” and massacred civilians who didn’t comply, were all Han defectors. Liu Liangzuo was a Han General and he carried out the massacre against people who didn’t wear the queue.

      Han Chinese didn’t rely on local defectors to conquer the area which is now Vietnam. The Han armies marched in and just conquered the area.

      If I was a Vietnamese nationalist I wouldn’t be trying to deflect to the Manchu conquest. You know little about it. Not comparable at all.

      1. You assert [ the majority of the “Manchu Qing army” was made out of Han Chinese Ming defectors ].Do you have references and statistics to back-up your “wild ” assertions ? One would assume that the majority of Qing soldiers and generals would be Manchu
        Anyhow , I don’t find much difference between my utterings and your growlings : your assertions about the Han defectors are of footnote value .
        Basically , Han people were by Manchus , aren’t they ?

      2. At that time, if we look at the population of Manchu and of Han Chinese, we would know that without the Han Chinese Ming Defectors, Manchu could have a very hard time conquering the whole China.

        The population of Manchu was about one million and the population of Han Chinese then were about 100 millions strong. Without the aid of the Han defectors, how could one million Manchu could defeat 100 million Han Chinese?

      3. The only number that is important for understanding foreign rule is the number of local people who couldn’t care less who their rulers were because their lives were going to be miserable no matter what. That number has always been high. Out of those 100 million Han Chinese, probably very close to that same number of people didn’t care who their ruler was. Their lives were destined to be miserable regardless of who ruled over them.

        Yes, foreign rulers always rely on local collaborators. A few thousand Dutch men ruled over millions of Indonesians thanks in part to the help of local collaborators, but their numbers were also in the thousands. It’s the millions and millions of people who didn’t care less who made the difference.

        We can say the same thing about French ruling over Vietnamese/Cambodians/Lao, the British ruling over Burmese/Malays, etc., the Americans ruling over Filipinos, Mughals ruling over Indians, the list goes on and on and on. The vast majority of people in the past never cared (or even knew) who their rulers were.

      4. That’s a fantastic article!! Thanks for introducing it.

        Yes, all of this happened in “Viet Nam” as well. I have a friend who says that nationalism as like a “mental disease,” because once you “have it,” you don’t realize that you have it because it affects your brain.

        This article shows that very well. People in Asia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries learned that Westerners had a different way of viewing and organizing the world than the one they were familiar with. Given that Western nations were conquering and colonizing Asia, intellectuals in Asia looked closely at how Westerners thought and what they did and tried to adapt their own societies to fit that “model.”

        The fact that virtually no one in Asia today realizes that the way that they think is radically different from the way that their great grandparents did (or to put it the other way, that they think that their “compatriots” have always viewed the world and thought about it in the same way that people do today) is a sign of how successful this adaptation has been.

      5. I am glad that the essay on “born in translation” helps. I think, together with van Driem’s article entitled “Rice and the Austroasiatic and Hmong-Mien homelands”, and other DNA research on human migration, should help redirect our thinking about “the essence” of ethnicity, and the boundaries of “nation-state” and “civilisational” trends. Social organisations rise, fall, or endure with modifications, what can be learned from these transformations for the wellness of humans and the earth in which we inhabit would seem to me more useful. The rice terraces have lasted thousands of years, and are found not only on mainland Asia, but also in archipelagoes such as the Philippines and Indonesia, knowledge migrate as people do . Putting an identity tag on a specific “culture” and its role as a motor of civilisation would go against the “real” phenomenon of “circulation” (ideas, people, values, practices) as something unique to humankind. Nation-states was a necessary set up at a certain time of human history to collect tax, waging wars, expanding boundaries, create fixed identities for allegiance. Whether people’s relationship with the state is a happy one or not is a historical question. this should not be taken for granted, otherwise there is no science but propaganda. The key question is the goal of the researcher and the ethical question that underpins it.

      6. On the issue of “nationalism”, I would like to raise a couple of issues for further reflection when speaking about “migration and its networks”:
        1) the homo Homo sapiens is migratory and colonising species, these two features go together. Therefore the reality that knowledge travel with people, and as people mingle with other new forms of knowledge and entities are created.
        2) it is clear that the nation state as a concept is rooted in European history, with the treaty of Westphalia. Suzerainty ceased to exist, they were bound together to create to create the nation state as we know it today. What may be called the “nationalist sentiment” and its transposition to post-colonial state is related to this phenomenon. This much I agree.
        3) However, this does not mean that within the postcolonial world, there had been no sentiment attached to a given area (the boundaries of which may change through time), called it a country or a nation.
        4) In Vietnamese history, this sentiment had been expressed through the ages in various form, using the terms mountains and rivers to express boundaries and the need to defend them, and allegiance to a given ruler. Whether is can be called “nationalism” or not is a matter for debate, but for a society, the existential question is central (however one wants to label it) is central, otherwise there would be no society to speak of.
        5) China is the only country in the world today that claims its enduring history for having endured more 5000 years, extending over a huge territory occupied by a great diversity of people and cultures. It is a bit like putting different things in a pressure cooker and make a soup out of it.

        In short, back to your statement about ‘nationalism as like a “mental disease,” because once you “have it,” you don’t realize that you have it because it affects your brain.’ I ask: is it a mental disease, or is it and expression of the existential question at a particular point in time?

        Today, people pay tax to their government which rules over a given “national territory”, they expect their government to defend their interests and handle the “existential question” properly, i.e. not losing its territory and maintaining autonomy in decision-making. Is it a mental disease or shall we try to find another way to address the existential question, which may be also expressed differently by particular groups within the boundaries of a “nation state” (such as the Hmong in Vietnam, the Tibetan in China, the indigenous people of the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan…and more?

        I hope I did not drop a big stone in a relatively calm pond, please feel free to discard my comment if you find it irrelevant!

  5. leminhkhai said:
    ” There was a theory that emerged in the early twentieth century which argued that at the end of the first millennium BC, Vietnamese migrated to the Red River delta from an original homeland in what is today southeastern China.

    This idea was suggested first by Edouard Chavannes in 1901, and was then developed further by Leonard Aurousseau in 1923. Today this theory is no longer upheld, although one can still find it mentioned. Nonetheless, I don’t think that many people are aware of why this theory does not make sense. ”

    Tam Vo reply:

    In fact, the original homeland of Vietnamese are not from southern China, but from north Vietnam. North Vietnam are original homeland of Bai Yue people, who migrated to southern China. These Bai Yue became the real owners of the land in southern China up to the border line was from Huai river to Qin ling mountain in China (between Yellow river and Yangtze river), according to evidence of archaeology and genetics.

    When Han people from north China attacked and invaded Bai Yue’s land, some groups of these Bai Yue moved to north Vietnam to escape the war from Han people (they came back to the original homeland of their ancestors in north Vietnam), and they became a part of Luo Yue in north Vietnam.

    Search on google:

    “Man Bac excavation”

    to see the information about archaeology evidences that people ( from what is now belong to south China) move to north Vietnam many thousand years ago. They mixed with aboriginal people in north Vietnam to become ancestors of modern Vietnamese.

    1. Ok, so in looking for “Man Bac excavation” I read an article by Marc Oxenham and Hirofumi Matsumura on “Man Bac: Regional, Cultural and Temporal Context” which argues that “Several bioarchaeological lines of evidence from Man Bac support the view that the site is representative of a demographic expansion from southern China into northern Vietnam some time shortly after 2,000 BCE.”

      There is nothing in that article about northern Vietnam being the homeland of the Baiyue, or the Baiyue migrating from there to southern China, or of Baiyue moving back to northern Vietnam after being attacked.

      As far as I know, Oxenham and Matsumura are very respected scholars. Their research is very solid. So if the ideas you mentioned do not come from their research, then where do they come from?

      http://press.anu.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/ch112.pdf

      1. Man Bac excavation is the evidence that people from what is now belong to southern China migrated to North Viet Nam about 3500 BCE.

        Do you know where territory of Han Chinese in 3500 BCE is?

        In 3500 BCE, southern China belonged to whom?

        Do you know where Chinese ancestors from?

        To know the original of Bai Yue, the migrations of Bai Yue migrated from Vietnam to southern China, and some of them moved back to north Vietnam, you need to know: Human Migration, DNA researches, the maps of China territories, China history and culture, Vietnam history and culture, China and Vietnam archaeology. Bai Yue history and culture. There are a lot of things that need to pay close attention to find the true of what happended over 2000 years ago in Vietnam and China. I will go over these things step by step in some days.

      2. leminhkhai said in comment # 13:

        “As I said above, show me the academic studies that provide this information.”

        Tam Vo said in comment # 12:

        “To know the original of Bai Yue, the migrations of Bai Yue migrated from Vietnam to southern China, and some of them moved back to north Vietnam, you need to know: Human Migration, DNA researches, the maps of China territories, China history and culture, Vietnam history and culture, China and Vietnam archaeology. Bai Yue history and culture. There are a lot of things that need to pay close attention to find the true of what happended over 2000 years ago in Vietnam and China. I will go over these things step by step in some days.”

        Tam Vo reply:

        As I said, because there are many importance things that you need to pay close intention BEFORE you have conclusion of what happened in more than 2000 years ago in China and north Vietnam. These are importance things: Human Migration, original of Chinese – Vietnamese -Bai Yue ancestors, DNA researches, China: history – territory maps – archaeology – culture, Vietnam: history – territory maps – archaeology – culture, Bai Yue: history -territory map – archaeology – culture.

        As I told you before, I will go over these things step by step, but I need to know how do you know thoroughly those important things, I will give you informations for what you don’ know, and I will skip for what you already know.

        In this article, you mention about Bai Yue, please let me know:

        1. The territory maps of China from Qin dynasty and before.

        2. Where were Han Chinese before Qin dynasty?

        3. The land in southern China belonged to whom before Qin dynasty?

        4. Do you know anything about Human Migration?

        5. Do you know anything about DNA researches for population in north east Asia and south east Asia?

        Please answer the above 5 questions. I will provide informations for which you don’t know, and I will go further steps for other informations in east Asia from more than 2000 years ago.

  6. It seems to me that the theory of Tam Vo is from An Viet which was introduced by the late priest Kim Dinh, and Ha van Thuy is one the followers.

    1. I am a Vietnamese, I left Vietnam when I was a little baby in more than 30 years ago. I don’t have much knowledge about Vietnamese scholars researches, but I have learned o lot of researches from Western scholars in: Anthropology, Archaeology, DNA, Human Migrations, history – language – culture of China, Vietnam and Bai Yue
      from rehistoric time.

      1. I learned this kind of theory from a website An Viet Toan Cau which was based in England and the website is no longer exists. If I recall correctly, the website owner is Mr. Vu khanh Thanh (?).
        I would like to see your academic study in Chinese and Vietnamese if possible. Thank you.

      2. Bai yue are proto – Vietnamese who lived in the region south of the Yang tse As Wikipedia says , the history of a country is the story of the peoples or cultures or dynasties who successively inhabited this land ; and one should understand ” without necessarily relating to each other , without necessarily having a continuity between them ” .
        The Bai yue have only a distant relation or even no relation with Ngô quyên ‘s subjects or with today Vietnamese
        Tsin che Houang or Zhao Tuo didn’t know they were ” Chinese ” at the time they lived : the concept was retroactively bestowed upon them
        It’s a little bit outlandish to think that during 1000 years, the same “Chinese” have ruled over the same Vietnamese . Permanence , as Boudha would say , is not in the nature of things . All things are vô 無thường 常 bất 不 trụ 住 ( impermanent )
        As for the USA , the lands south of the Yang tse were during those centuries a melting pot , mixing different kinds of peoples and cultures

  7. Tam Vo, yes it is true that there are many things that we “need to know” in order to understand the past, but it is even more important that we understand that there is certain kinds of knowledge that we can rely on (because it is produced through a professional process), and knowledge that we can’t rely on (because it is not produced through a professional process). So we “need to know” the knowledge that is produced professionally.

    I mentioned this guy above:
    http://archanth.anu.edu.au/marc

    If this guy writes an article on archaeology and genetics, before it can get published, it has to be sent to experts in the field of archaeology and genetics, and those people have to agree that what this person wrote is valid. If some of the things he writes are not accurate, they will demand that he make changes to his article before it can be published. If there are many problems with the article, or if it does not follow up-to-date ideas, they might say that the article should not be published.

    The reason why I keep saying “show me an academic study” that talks about the points you make is because I want to see knowledge that is produced in this professional manner. Anyone can read some books and come up with their own ideas and put that information on the Internet. But that is not professionally produced knowledge, and is likely to have problems or be inaccurate.

    Finally, this is why scholars use footnotes – because they have to show other people where they get their ideas from. They can’t just say to other people, “you need to know about these topics” in order to understand this issue. Instead, they have to show people, “I think this way about this topic based on my reading of this passage in this text or based on my understanding of this finding by this archaeologist” etc.

    A reader above mentioned Ha Van Thuy – some people who follow his ideas have commented on this blog and I asked them repeatedly to show me where they get their ideas from, to show me evidence, to show me professionally produced academic studies that support their ideas.

    But none of those people could do that. So that is a clear sign to me that there are serious problems with their ideas. Scholars have to document/show where there ideas come from, and they have to let other experts verify what they say is accurate.

    1. Why did you try to avoid answering my questions in comment # 17 ?.

      Once again, as I told you before, I will go over these things step by step, but I need to know how do you know thoroughly those important things, I will give you informations for what you don’ know, and I will skip for what you already know.

      In this article, you mention about Bai Yue, please let me know:

      1. The territory maps of China from Qin dynasty and before.

      2. Where were Han Chinese before Qin dynasty?

      3. The land in southern China belonged to whom before Qin dynasty?

      4. Do you know anything about Human Migration?

      5. Do you know anything about DNA researches for population in north east Asia and south east Asia?

      Please answer the above 5 questions. I will provide informations (Academic references) for which you don’t know, and I will go further steps for other informations in east Asia from more than 2000 years ago.

  8. @TD Truong
    _ nationalism evolves from king- centered loyalty ( trung quân ) as human kind becomes able of abstract thinking .
    _ maybe nationalism in not a mental disease per se but chauvinism is . It gives rise to contorted thinking as when people try to invent ancient history going back to the dawn of history or when Bles portrays the Manchu conquest and the imposition of queue as the main work of Han defector generals
    _ VN nationalism is no different from Chinese nationalism : Song general Yue fei ( Nhac phi ) demanded : ” give me back my mountains and rivers ” , “hoàn ngã hà sơn” 山河我還 https://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nh%E1%BA%A1c_Phi
    _ nationalism does exist for sure , everywhere , there is love for one’s region ,local nationalism .
    By the way , I read a post from Pr Kelley who states that before the 20th century , the different local peoples saw themselves as Bretons , Picards ,Alsacians ; they did’nt know they were “Français ” until they went to republican schools and got universal education

  9. Nationalism has its ugly sides :
    After Napoleon III ‘s fall and reestablishment of Third French Republic , the inhabitants of different provinces , Bretagne , Picardie , Alsace , Lorraine outside of learning they were ” Français ” were fed a nationalist historical narrative , going back to the Gaulois , as forefathers of the French .
    In the schools , the children were also subjected to forced assimilation , they were forbiddden to talk their local dialects ( patois ) by their teachers who punished them harshly when caught in the fact ; that awful treatment lasrted until the end of WW II ; the result , the different patois are almost extinct . It happened also in the late USSR vis à vis the minorities ; the late
    USSR was nicknamed ” prison of the ethnies “

    1. The ugly sides of nationalism as a “prison of the ethnies” are known elsewhere outside of the USSR. Southeast Asian countries not exempt from it. Ask the Canadian, Ecuadorian, Nicaraguan people today and what they have to say the campaign on the land rights of indigenous people. What has been done in the name of nationalism also vary a great deal from place to place? my question can we do away with the idea of the nation-state, and replace it with something else while there is no world government? or is world government desirable to begin which when the nation-state can hardly handle ethnic and cultural differences, is the alternative of communal politics any better? so if we are speaking about the ugliness of polity, then all its forms must be looked into .

      1. Nationalism as patriotic love for an abstract entity ( the “nation “) can’t be pushed back in the bottle , it follows mankind ‘s evolution . It replaces fealty ( trung quân ) as patriotic impulse . Only Great Britain ( for Queen and country ) and Japan mix trung quân with nationalism
        As with families , ugly things happen in nations ; as the saying goes , each family has its own form of unhappiness ( child abuse , prodigal vs non-prodigal son , etc…)

      2. One would be a fool if one were to try to push back “history”, and intelligent person would try to learn from it, especially the destructive aspects of “schooling” on nationalism . there is loads of literature on this, a focus on the relation between race, gender and sexuality have brought many ugly things to the fore. so in essence we do not disagree, but I think there is need for a more nuanced understanding of “nationalism” as a sentiment, the “nation-state” as a “container” of diverse ethnies whose identities become split by “national borders” (like the Hmong in Vietnam and Laos) and aspects of relations of governance that are oppressive as well as aspects of thinking in research about “the nation” that essentialize the question of origin, and how they manage to “creep” into relations of governance.

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