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Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog

Always rethinking the Southeast Asian past

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leminhkhai

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Vietnamese Schools in China in the 1950s-1970s

Earlier this year as part of the “Vietnam ‘67” series of essays that appeared in the New York Times, historian Olga Dror published a piece about schools for Vietnamese that were set up in southern China during the Vietnam War called “How China Used Schools to Win Over Hanoi.”

This article briefly discussed a group of schools collectively known in Chinese as the “Nine Two schools” “九二学校 (meaning “9/2” or “September 2nd,” the day in 1945 that Hồ Chí Minh declared Vietnam to be independent from French colonial rule). In passing, Dror also states that “This was not the first time that China had hosted North Vietnamese schools. In the 1950s, during and after the war with France, Vietnamese schools had been set up in southern China, with Chinese permission and aid.”

I found this essay fascinating as I did not know anything about the topic. In looking around on the Internet, I saw that this is a topic that has appeared in the Chinese media and can be found on Baike, a Chinese equivalent to Wikipedia, however I could not find any scholarly studies of this issue.

I was therefore excited to recently find in looking through a database of Chinese PhD Dissertations and MA theses that there are two MA theses that have been written on this topic, one in 2006 and one in 2008.

Continue reading “Vietnamese Schools in China in the 1950s-1970s”

The Rise of (Historical Scholarship on Vietnam in) China

I recently gained access to a database of PhD dissertations and MA theses in China. Out of curiosity, I did a search for “越南” (Vietnam) and was amazed at what I found. . .

From what I have been able to determine, so far in this century there have been close to 100 PhD dissertations completed in China that deal with some aspect of Vietnamese history, with the majority having been completed in the last decade. The number of MA theses is also very large, and many of those have been completed in the past few years (indicating that this trend of scholarship on Vietnam getting produced in Vietnam is only going to increase).

As I browsed through the many dissertations – studies that covered everything from the ancient environment of Quảng Nam to, to institutional change in medieval Vietnam, to Chinese aid during the Vietnam War, to a comparative study of the writings of Lu Xun and Nam Cao – I wondered to myself: How many PhD dissertations on Vietnamese history have been produced in “the West” in the twenty first century? . . .

Continue reading “The Rise of (Historical Scholarship on Vietnam in) China”

“Women’s Rights” or “Men’s Rights to Women” in Premodern Vietnam

I was reading Phan Ngọc’s The Characteristics of Vietnamese Culture (Bản sắc văn hóa Việt Nam, 1998) and came across a passage where the author was talking about differences between Vietnam and China by referencing the supposed higher level of autonomy that Vietnamese women had in the past in comparison to their Chinese sisters.

In making this argument, Phan Ngọc claims that a Lê Dynasty-era legal code stated that “If a husband without children abandons his home for five months, or one year if he has children, then the wife has the right to marry another man.” (Người chồng bỏ nhà ra đi năm tháng nếu không có con, một năm nếu có con, thì người vợ có quyền lấy chồng khác.) [pg. 241]

pn 1

pn 2

I’ve heard arguments like this one many times. There have been numerous Vietnamese and Western scholars who have examined premodern Vietnamese law codes and have tried to argue that they demonstrate that there was greater autonomy for women in premodern Vietnam than in premodern China.

The legal code in question here is the Quốc triều hình luật, also known as the Lê triều hình luật, and colloquially referred to as the Luật Hồng Đức. I’m not sure if Phan Ngoc based his understanding on the original Han text or a translation, but if you read the original, it becomes very clear that this passage does not talk about any kind of “women’s rights.” To the contrary, it is about “men’s rights to women.”

Continue reading ““Women’s Rights” or “Men’s Rights to Women” in Premodern Vietnam”

The 10th Engaging With Vietnam Theme

The theme of the upcoming Engaging With Vietnam Conference (15-21 December 2018) is “Beyond Dichotomies: Vietnam from Multiple Perspectives.”

For more information about the theme, and to see Le Minh Khai run away from monkeys in Brunei. . . please see the following video:

The 10th Engaging With Vietnam Conference

We would like to announce that the 10th Engaging With Vietnam: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue Conference will be held from 15-21 December 2018 in Hồ Chí Minh City and Phan Thiết, Bình Thuận. The theme of this year’s conference is “Beyond Dichotomies: Vietnam from Multiple Perspectives.” The deadline to submit individual or panel proposals is 30 September 2018 and notification will be made by 30 October 2018 (earlier submissions are welcome and early notifications can be accommodated).

Given that this is the 10th year anniversary of the Engaging With Vietnam conference series, we are looking forward to marking this milestone by highlighting an exciting range of stimulating keynote sessions and conference activities. And as always, there will be surprises!

Continue reading “The 10th Engaging With Vietnam Conference”

K-Pop River Tourism in Vietnam

The most recent Engaging With Vietnam conference (the 9th) focused on the topics of tourism, development, sustainability, and the preservation of heritage/culture. In the case of Vietnam, these topics are particularly fascinating and relevant ones as over the past two decades the country has witnessed a massive expansion of the tourism sector as business people have sought to cater to the ever-growing number of both domestic and international tourists.

Such a transformation of course brings both positive and negative changes, and this in turn highlights the many issues that the development of tourism encompasses, and the many questions the development of tourism raises.

Who gets to decide what to develop and what to preserve? Who benefits? Who doesn’t? If it is unavoidable that there will be both “winners” and “losers,” what is an acceptable balance between the two? What costs, or negative byproducts, are acceptable in achieving prosperity for the majority? etc.

The most recent Engaging With Vietnam conference (the 9th) focused on the topics of tourism, development, sustainability, and the preservation of heritage/culture. In the case of Vietnam, these topics are particularly fascinating and relevant ones as over the past two decades the country has witnessed a massive expansion of the tourism sector as business people have sought to cater to the ever-growing number of both domestic and international tourists.

Such a transformation of course brings both positive and negative changes, and this in turn highlights the many issues that the development of tourism encompasses, and the many questions the development of tourism raises.

Who gets to decide what to develop and what to preserve? Who benefits? Who doesn’t? If it is unavoidable that there will be both “winners” and “losers,” what is an acceptable balance between the two? What costs, or negative byproducts, are acceptable in achieving prosperity for the majority? etc.

Continue reading “K-Pop River Tourism in Vietnam”

A SURPRISE Announcement (Thông báo BẤT NGỜ!!) from Engaging With Vietnam!!!

The 10th Engaging With Vietnam will be held from 15-21 December 2018. For more information, see engagingwithvietnam.org.

Islands and Change

I’ve spent my entire adult life on islands – 6 years on Taiwan and 23 years on Oahu (Hawaii) – and all of the professional knowledge that I have today was learned on those islands.

When I arrived on Taiwan in the summer of 1989, I only knew one word in Chinese – xiexie, “thank you” – and basically did not know anything about the history of any Asian society.

I’ve learned a lot since then, and I’ve also seen so much change since then.

Continue reading “Islands and Change”

Historians and Historical Scholarship in the Digital Age

About a week ago, historian Vũ Đức Liêm published an article in the online journal Tia Sáng on “‘Small,’ ‘Brief’ and ‘Narrow’ Histories or a Crisis of Historical Scholarship?” (Những lịch sử “nhỏ”, “ngắn”, “hẹp” hay khủng hoảng của sử học?).

In this article, Vũ Đức Liêm notes that we are living in a time when there are many people who feel that historical scholarship is facing a crisis as students do not seem to be interested in studying it, and historians have little prominence or influence in society. He examines this issue and suggests that there are types of historical scholarship that Vietnamese historians could produce that would be of more interest to the public.

 

Tia Sang Liem2

Continue reading “Historians and Historical Scholarship in the Digital Age”

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