In the summer of 2016 I gave a talk at Nhà Sàn Collective, an art space in Hanoi, on some of the historical ideas that the South Vietnamese philosopher/historian, Lương Kim Định, produced in the 1960s.
This was the abstract for that talk:
“Virtually every human society today has a story about where it came from, or what we can call an ‘origin story.’ In the case of Vietnam, one could say that the story about Thần Nông, Kinh Dương Vương, Lạc Long Quân and the Hùng Kings is a kind of origin story. However, there was a new origin story that emerged in the 20th century that argued that the ancestors of the Vietnamese were agriculturalists (người nông nghiệp) who migrated into the region to get away from pastoralists (người du mục) to the north. This talk will examine how and why this ‘alternative origin story’ emerged in the 20th century.”
I have long planned to make a video of that talk, and now I am finally starting to do that. I have enlisted the help of some friends – Sư Phạm, Văn, Sử and Địa – and will reproduce that talk in installments, starting with this introduction: