Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog

Always rethinking the Southeast Asian past



The Ming-Occupation-Period Origins of the Lĩnh Nam Chích Quái?

One of the earliest texts that contains information about Vietnamese history is a fifteenth-century work known as the Arrayed Tales of Selected Oddities from South of the Passes (Lĩnh Nam chích quái liệt truyện 嶺南摭怪列傳) [“Arrayed Tales” for short]. This text contains stories about various famous people from Vietnamese history.

However, there is something strange about its preface. The preface is written from what we could call a “Chinese perspective.” Here is how it begins:

“Although the Cassia Sea is in [the area of] South of the Passes, marvelous mountains and streams, potent land, outstanding people, and miraculous affairs perhaps can all be found there.”

Continue reading “The Ming-Occupation-Period Origins of the Lĩnh Nam Chích Quái?”

A Review of Jonathan Saha’s “Among the Beasts of Burma”

For several years now I have admired the work of a young UK scholar by the name of Jonathan Saha. Having started out conducting research on criminality in colonial Burma, Saha is now more or less pioneering an emerging field of “Southeast Asian animal history,” or more specifically, of the history of human-animal relations in Southeast Asia.

Beyond that, Saha maintains an impressive blog in which he shares his research-in-progress.

Continue reading “A Review of Jonathan Saha’s “Among the Beasts of Burma””

Happy Lunar New Year from Le Minh Khai’s SEAsian History Blog

It’s a new year, and we’re getting ready here at Le Minh Khai’s SEAsian History Blog to live life in this new year to its fullest.

After seven years, Le Minh Khai has finally revealed his true identity on the About page.

And after seven years, Le Minh Khai has decided that it’s finally time to take on the extremely important topic of the influence of the Nhân văn – Giai phẩm Affair on historical scholarship in North (and later, unified) Vietnam through text and video.

Continue reading “Happy Lunar New Year from Le Minh Khai’s SEAsian History Blog”

Interrogating Đào Duy Anh: Everything’s Bigger in Texas

Michelle/Natasha and Lê Minh Khải went to a meeting with an American intelligence official named Hank (a friend of Papa François) where they talked about the Nhân Văn – Giai Phẩm Affair and historians in Saigon.

Interrogating Đào Duy Anh: One Night in Tunis

Having rescued Lê Minh Khải from Dr. Wu, Natasha takes him to meet her Papa in Tunisia where they talk about the declining influence of French scholarship in North Vietnam. . .

Interrogating Đào Duy Anh: From Moscow With Love (Part 2)

This video contains some more discussion of some of the conclusions that Đào Duy Anh reaches in his 1938 work, An Historical Outline of Vietnamese Culture (Việt Nam văn hóa sử cương).

The Idea for a Mandarin Language in Early-20th-Century Vietnam

The civil service examination was of course an extremely important institution in Vietnamese history, but it is a topic that has yet to be researched in depth. Indeed, trying to understand how that institution worked is a daunting task, and it is understandable that not many scholars have tried to take on this difficult topic.

Recently I took a look at some documents that were produced in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that contain questions from the exams and “ideal answers.” Known as Selected Essays from the Palace Exam [Hội đình văn tuyển 會庭文選], these texts were meant to serve as study guides for future exam takers.

Continue reading “The Idea for a Mandarin Language in Early-20th-Century Vietnam”

Colonial Vietnam from a Bovine Perspective

A few weeks ago I drove through a town in northern Vietnam that sold local milk products. As someone who grew up on a dairy farm but who is now lactose-intolerant, it felt somewhat surreal to watch my Vietnamese travel companions happily slurp down freshly made goats’ milk yogurt while I stood and watched. . . but ultimately this all made me wonder about the history of the dairy industry in that region.

Clearly dairy farms are not a “traditional Vietnamese” industry, and therefore, it must be the case that this is an industry that was introduced during the colonial period, but I was curious to know some of the details about the actual history of the introduction of the dairy industry into Vietnam.

a cow

Continue reading “Colonial Vietnam from a Bovine Perspective”

Taking a Break

Summer is here and it’s time again to take a break for a few weeks. Thank you for reading and viewing. Le Minh Khai’s SEAsian History Blog will be back in late July.

Continue reading “Taking a Break”

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Always rethinking the Southeast Asian past

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