Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reflection #1: Politics

Parts of the presentation were successful in offering a clear overview of the articles, however that being noted, the presenters could have critically analyzed the authors’ points rather than simply reiterating and summarizing the readings. Hearing their personal response to what was written in the paper would have been much more significant in contributing to the understanding of the readings. In general, I felt as though the presentation was rather disjointed and lacked cohesiveness. Although different topics were discussed, there should have been an element added which tied all the ideas together. The presentation on contemporary Vietnam politics was poorly explained which only added to my confusion already founded from reading the paper. The presenter on this reading was unclear and seemed unsure of himself. Additionally, I believe that the presentation missed the opportunity to truly tackle the theme of politics in Southeast Asian history as Vietnam was heavily discussed, ignoring significant political issues found in other Southeast Asian communities. Although understandably it is impossible to cover such a diverse population in such a short presentation, the lack of representation of other ethnic communities such as the Hmong and Laos only perpetuates ignorance within the Southeast Asian community and pegs the knowledge of these groups as insignificant. A problem most notable in the community is the lack of understanding for one another and collaboration with each other to unite under one common identity.  Only through unification would the community be taken seriously both political and socially.
I particularly found the article on Amerasian quite fascinating as I did not realize that such an issue existed. What was bothersome is the fact that politics can be manipulated through language and thus be used to excuse the United States for their wrongdoings. This theme of framing relates perfectly with Espiritu’s paper “The “We-Win-Even-When-We-Lose” Syndrome in which with time the war was transformed into something completely different. Just as the use of language changed the way in which the war was described by the twenty-fifth anniversary, policies surrounding mix children of wartime deflected blame and even ignored the issues completely. I also found the reading on the relationship between Vietnam and China interesting as it was not until taking this class did I learn of this complex love-hate relationship between these two countries. While Vietnam strives to be unique and separate from China, there is such a dependence on China that it is unclear whether or not such a phenomenon will digress in the future. However regardless of the reliance, I find it resilient that the Vietnamese refuse to succeed land to China which is consistent to the long-term patterns of nationalism throughout Vietnamese history.
Although unsure what the final paper will discussed in terms of politics, I would challenge the presenters to use past politics to critically analyze and even predict future trend of political movements in the United States. Another fascinating topic to expand on would be exploring the implication of politics of origin/home country on new immigration populations based in the Unites States. Is the difference between political systems in Vietnam and the United States result in tensions? And on the topic on contemporary Vietnam, it would be interesting to examine and contrast the politics between the older and younger generations living in both Vietnam and in the United States. 

-Christina Nguyen

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