Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog

Always rethinking the Southeast Asian past

Spacing Out & Goscha’s History of Vietnam (LMK Vlog #05)

This video is about the importance of spacing out, and it also comments on Christopher Goscha’s “Vietnam: A New History.”

Watching Vietnamese Films in Chinese (LMK Vlog #04)

This vlog introduces and discusses a 1969 film from North Vietnam called “The Front is Calling” (Tiền Tuyến Gọi).

Hot Dogs & Ancient Việt Totems (LMK Vlog #03)

This week’s Vlog is about totems, a book by anthropologist Đinh Hồng Hải (Những biểu tượng đặc trưng trong văn hoá truyền thống Việt Nam, tập 3: Các con vật linh), hot dogs, and the need to live life in the present.

A Conversation (in Vnese) with Nguyễn Sử about the History of Vietnamese Calligraphy

This video is of a conversation that we had in the summer of 2017 with Nguyễn Sử, the author of a recent book on the history of Vietnamese calligraphy (Lịch Sử Thư Pháp Việt Nam).

In addition to being an expert on the history of Vietnamese calligraphy, Nguyễn Sử is also a scholar of religion. In early January of 2018, Nguyễn Sử was a keynote speaker at the 9th Engaging With Vietnam conference where he gave a fascinating presentation on the commercialization of religion.

This conversation is in Vietnamese. I will write a post about the book in English soon, and will try to include some of the points covered in this video.

Vin(group) University, Melbourne U. and the Future of the Humanities (and Asian Studies)

[I posted this piece on the Content Asian Studies site. Given that it covers topics (the future of Humanities/area studies education in and outside of Southeast Asia) that overlap with issues that this blog deals with, I thought I would post it here as well for anyone who might be interested.]

Major Vietnamese property developer, Vingroup, just announced that it will build a world-class university in Vietnam with consultation from some of the world’s top universities, such as Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Vin University, or VinUni for short, “will be a private, non-profit university of Vietnam established on international standards and integrating the world’s elite models of higher education.”

What exactly are “the world’s elite models of higher education”? A recent job application for a historian of Vietnam at Melbourne University, one of the top-ranked universities in the world made me wonder about that, and what the implications of “the world’s elite models of higher education” are for the future of Humanities scholarship, the “home” of some of the key fields in Asian Studies.”

The trend in “the world’s elite models of higher education” indicates quite clearly that the future of the Humanities and Asian Studies is bleak as long as we persist on doing things the way we always have. But there is a potentially much brighter future awaiting for us if we change.

Reading “Ming China and Vietnam” (LMK Vlog #02)

I recently had the pleasure of reading and writing a review of Kathlene Baldanza’s Ming China and Vietnam: Negotiating Borders in Early Modern Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Published book reviews often do not provide enough space to engage in the kind of deep discussion about a book that a good book deserves, so I decided to make a Vlog about this book.

Reading Phan Bội Châu (LMK Vlog #01)

I think it’s time to start Vlogging. Here is my first Vlog, on Phan Bội Châu’s 1908 “Examination of Vietnamese History” (Việt Nam quốc sử kháo 越南國史考) and its Vietnamese translation.

The Trans-Contemporary Approach to Heritage at The Myst Dong Khoi

There is a new hotel in the heart of Saigon that is unique. It is called “The Myst Dong Khoi,” and what makes it unique is that it demonstrates that I would call a “trans-contemporary approach to heritage.”

Let me explain what I mean by that.


Continue reading “The Trans-Contemporary Approach to Heritage at The Myst Dong Khoi”

A New Year, A New Blog: “Content Asian Studies”

Seven years after starting “Le Minh Khai’s Southeast Asian History blog,” I feel like all of the world has changed dramatically except for one part. . . the academic world.

I started this blog in an effort to adapt to the changes that the “digital revolution” was bringing to the world. Those changes have only intensified over the past seven years, but I do not see the academic transforming in order to adapt to these changes.

And unsurprisingly, I see plenty of signs of “decline” in the academic world (declining enrollment in various subjects, declining job opportunities for people trained in certain subjects that are not changing, and declining interest in some subjects, particularly those that are not participating in the digital world of the present).

I think about these issues A LOT, and I have decided to document some of the ideas that I have about this issue and to post them to a blog that I am calling “Content Asian Studies.”

At the moment, my idea is for “Content Asian Studies” to be a kind of “flash blog,” that is, a blog where over the next several weeks I will post the ideas that I have about (the need for) academic communication in the digital age (particularly as it pertains to Asian Studies), but then after that will stop and allow the blog to essentially serve as a reference for people.

That being the case, I will have less time over the next few weeks to post to “Le Minh Khai’s Southeast Asian History blog,” but I encourage interested readers here to venture over to “Content Asian Studies” and have a look.

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Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog

Always rethinking the Southeast Asian past

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a collection of thoughts and writings on Burma

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on knowing the past in Singapore


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Ideas for employing digital humanities approaches to the study of Southeast Asian history