Friday, May 31, 2013

Eddie Truong - Week 9

In "Social Transformations From Virtual Communities" in Transnationalizing Viet Nam: Community, Culture, and Politics in the Diaspora, Valverde points out the sustained activism that arises from instantaneous connections between diaspora and Viet Nam. Valverde also reveals that numerous instances in which Vietnamese diasporic engineers pushed the IT development of Viet Nam in the 1990's. As such, the author makes the connection that the Vietnamese diaspora was instrumental in pushing technological development in the homeland and continue to participate in its development.

This instance reminds me of the ways in which my family sustains our transnational connections to our extended family members. Through remittances, we are able to fund the sustained development and improved living conditions of our family members across the world from each other. Our family in Viet Nam depend on our remittances and enjoy a better standard of living. In this way, I observe that the desire to help our family trumps the desire to be antagonistic towards the communist state, although helping family in Viet Nam will also directly support the state as well. These sentiments are overlooked in order to attend to the immediate needs of the family. Will the diaspora continue to push the development of Viet Nam in this way and does this signal the start of new beginnings as well as new relationships between the diaspora and Viet Nam?

Eddie Truong - Week 8

In "Defying and Redefining Vietnamese Diasporic Art and Media as Seen through Chau Huynh's Creations" by Caroline Kieu-Linh Valverde, the author posits that culture production can be observed most prominently through the means and methods of which diasporic art is produced in the Vietnamese community. Valverde utilizes a case study of Chau Huynh, who creates diasporic art that relates to her own experiences with negotiating her identity as a Northern Vietnamese person living in Southern Vietnamese diaspora. In this way, she creates art that reveals the ways in which she views the merging of the two cultures. Her views are controversial, as they reveal a deep political divide within the Vietnamese community, a community that is unwilling to accept any semblance of communist sympathy.

I find that these views are often policed and silenced within the Vietnamese community. While there are strong and legitimate reasons for the knee-jerk reactions toward communism, there should be a productive dialogue that comes from a place of understanding from all members of the community. Instead, we find that there are a core group of Vietnamese elderly elites that police the production of culture in the community. In this way, we observe a culture of terrorism that is replicated and reproduced in order to control the means of Vietnamese diasporic cultural production. Instead of attempting to understand and reconcile differences, we find that these views are shut out and policed, to the point to spreading fear throughout the Vietnamese community. As such, are there ways for us to be self-critical in order to facilitate community dialogue and advance healing wounds within the Vietnamese community?

Eddie Truong - Week 7

In Transnationalizing Viet Nam: Community, Culture, and Politics in the Diaspora by Caroline Kieu-Linh Valverde, Valverde reveals the transnational processes that arise through the culture consumption of Vietnamese popular music from both the diaspora and the state of Viet Nam. Vietnamese popular music has the distinction of creating a feeling of nostalgia for diasporic communities and forging connections between the Vietnamese state and the diaspora, even when none thought that this was possible.

In my own experience, I find that this diasporic theoretical framework is particularly valuable because I have always known Vietnamese popular music to be a source of my cultural heritage. Through the productions of Paris by Night by Trung Tam Thuy Nga, I have been able to understand and learn about Vietnamese culture that my parents did not share with me through casual conversation. Just as Valverde points out, music is an important mode of transferring and developing Vietnamese culture production. These transnational connections are particularly interesting in light of the strong anticommunist sentiments shared by many in diaspora. In particular, how is it possible that these transnational connections can continue to persist despite the prevalent, negative feelings that the diaspora has towards the Vietnamese state and are there other modes in which we continue to develop and sustain these connections? Does this mean that the diaspora is starting to forgive communist Viet Nam?

Quynh Dinh-week 9

Chapter about Popular Music: Sounds of Home Resistance and Change of Kieu-Linh Valverde's Transnationalizing Viet Nam describes how music style and subject has changed from the past to present and predicts how the future Vietnamese music may be. After the fall of Saigon 1975, there is a drastic change in music in the country itself and that of Vietnamese American diaspora. The communist Vietnamese government started to enforce and control the media system by promoting traditional and revolutionary music. Especially several years after 1975, they forbade and cut off any access to Western music. In another hand, Vietnamese American community has kept holding on to anticommunism spirit and promoted songs about military and love songs during wars. However, as information communication technology (ICT) has developed, people from both sides have found a way to reconnect. Vietnam communist government lessened their restriction in order to expand the economics and international relation. Nowadays, a lot oversea singers come back to Vietnam to perform. I agree with Kieu-Lind Valverde on "Once seen as two distinctive forms, oversees Vietnamese and homeland Vietnamese music are now increasingly melded by transnational culture flows" (Valverde, page 64). In the beginning, there was hard and dangerous for Vietnamese singers to perform in the U.S.because anticommunist people would not let them sing in peace (check out the youtube video attached below). However, thing gets easier and better now as long as it does not promote Communism and no politics involved.

Here is the clip about Vietnamese singer Dam Vinh Hung being attacked by pepper spray by an Anticommunist Ly Tong:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Quynh Dinh- Week 8

Music is pervasively used to tell stories. Its style, context, beat, and lyric changes according to different period time of history. One interesting reading of this week, a chapter in Schlund-Vials’s “War, Genocide and Justice”, talks about Hip-hop and Cambodian American critique. PraCh Ly, a Cambodian American rapper from Long Beach creates his first album Dalama: The End’n Is Just the Beginnin’. This album is a collection of “transnational story of war, relocation, and resettlement” (Schlund-Vials, page 153). Taking sources from his refugee family and everyone he had known, praCh put all stories and experiences into lyrics, delivering a mesmerized history lesson during the Khmer Rouge regime. I think it’s very effective to use hip-hop to tell history about war and Cambodian genocide. In my opinion, Hip-hop with its strong, rhythmic, rapping speech can portray strong, aggressive feelings such as grievance, anger, rage and struggle very emotionally. I can feel that many Cambodian refugees suffered after the genocide and they keep being haunted by the past as they try to move on in America. It might be the case for all people who actually lived through the genocide. However, for future generations, when they start to adapt and assimilate into American life, could they still be able to share the same feeling of what their grandparents or great grandparents had experienced? 

Beside PraCh Ly's album, I found an interesting Cambodian hip-hop songs talking about deportation of young Cambodians. Here check it out

Anh TV: International Students in the United States

I wanted to take a deeper look into Vietnamese international students in the United States. From my background as an International Relations major and my past experience, I was curious to know about their reaction toward the Vietnamese (American) in the United States. I wondered if there were any conflicts or shocks. Specifically I was asking questions about the following:
  • how they emerge to the society
  • what difficulties/struggles they undergo
  • interact with Vietnamese American population here in the US

Methodology: interview; books -- some relevant books are not published; transnationalizing Viet Nam

  • Many avoid talking about it to stay away from troubles.
  • Ask a fb page of Vietnamese Intl students in the US: Admin refuse to further discuss on the subject
  • three/four interviews
  • more to worry about adapting/studying than identifying 
  • still identity themselves as Vietnam
Three outstanding cases: (1) came since high school (now an undergraduate in UCB), (2) came from the beginning of college (transfered from SJSU to UCD), (3) came for a semester exchange (at UConn)


  • Most international students focus more on academics and not concerned about politics
  • They struggles more on living by their own, adapting to the new environment than having conflicts with the Vietnamese American community
  • When conflicts (about to) happen, they hide their identity as Vietnamese Vietnamese; some have good English enough to accept themselves as Vietnamese Americans
  • Some international students come from wealth off families who own private business and are unhappy with the Government system in Vietnam --> prefer the freedom/ democracy in the United States.

Feedback from peers: 
From the outside: nothing new. Student experience -- international student experience 
Passing: hiding identity? Why do they pass? How? Lack of preparation intrinsicly
intl students easier to pass? Internal struggles
What aspect of they learn? How they intake/incorporate the information? 
Asian American reaction on international students

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Masunaga & Shigetoshi Proposal - Week 9

Information on the Vietnamese adoptee identity formation is very scarce and not well studied in the United States. Our research seeks to understand how the Vietnamese and Vietnamese American adoptee identity is formed and situated in the dominant Vietnamese American discourse.

The paper will acknowledge our intent to theorize and speculate provided the awareness of the insider-versus-outsider perspective (as recognized by Linda Trinh Vo's article “Performing Ethnography in Asian American Communities: Beyond the Insider-versus-Outsider Perspective”). We note that Liz is a first generation Vietnamese American adoptee raised by a Japanese American family, however, her personal experience may not fully represent the whole Vietnamese/Vietnamese American adoptee community; instead, it can potentially provide better insight on the struggle to define an adoptee's racial identity and the implications that follow race (i.e. language, cultural customs, and such). Some of our other case studies include a collaboration of blogs entries written by three Vietnamese adoptees (Anh Dao Kolbe, Kevin Minh Allen, and Sumeia Williams) whom share their perspectives on their personal Vietnamese adoptee history and experiences. Lastly, we scheduled personal interviews with Caroline Nguyen Ticarro-Parker (Founder & Executive Director of Catalyst Foundation) and Saul Tran Cornwall (a Vietnamese adoptee that starred in the documentary Precious Cargo).

We plan to examine the process of the Vietnamese adoptee identity formation in relation to the historical context of the Vietnamese American discourse. The multiracial framework, as defined by Yen Le Espirtu, author of “Possibilities of a Multiracial Asian America”, will provide a space to explore identity formations of cross-group affiliations, this being the case for adoptees and their adoptive parents not of the same ethnic background as them. In addition, we will speculate as to how the Vietnamese adoptee identity is formed from the borrowing of the multiracial/multiethnic body of knowledge through racial reconfiguration and ethnic rearticulation.

Here are the blog entries written by Anh Dao Kolbe, Kevin Minh Allen, and Sumeia Williams:

Here is more information on the Catalyst Foundation:

Here is an overview on Precious Cargo:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Masunaga - Week 8

What I found most interesting about this weeks reading was in Schlund-Vials's chapter, Lost Chapters and Invisible Wars. In the beginning of the chapter there is a couple of verses from a rap, written by praCh, It describes pain and lost associated with Cambodia, and the historical significance of the Khmer Rouge.  I think this melancholic idea of loss is interesting. Indeed the losses after the Khmer Rouge was tremendous and the pain and suffering was incomparable  but the fact that praCh feels this loss as one which is extremely real and personal to him despite not experiencing the Killing Fields himself is interesting.  It seems that rap takes the place of schools in educating that Khmer youth about such history and in that sense it is kept alive. This I think is similar to the Japanese American obsession with the Incarceration Camps during WWII. Similar not in so much as experience, but rather as a defining point for the community and for the Cambodian American community more specifically because it is the younger generation's recognition of such horrors and events that bring about the need to let people know the significance/importance.  This need reminds me in some ways of filling a void which what filled that void was lost in the regime of the Khmer Rouge.

My question is, what is this melancholic phenomenon in the Cambodian American community and is it similar to the "post memory" or history in memory (so to speak) in relation to the Killing Fields?  Is such need to know what happened or to inform others a way of speaking for those who choose not to speak (their immigrant parents)?

Check out praCh on Public Radio International Interview

Text of interview

Yee Xiong - Week 8

In Chia Youyee Vang’s book, “Hmong America” she explores the various contemporary issues in the Hmong American community.  In her chapter, “Continuity and Reinventions of Traditions” Vang states, “many Hmong Americans contend that New Year celebrations have become too commercialized” (p. 105) The Hmong New Year festivals no longer hold a sense of traditional practices of celebrating the new year, but has become a place for small businesses to gain profit from the merchandise they sell.  

The traditions in the Hmong culture is constantly changing and evolving; does that necessarily mean it’s for the better good? From personal experience, I would have to agree that the times are changing and there has been an increase of merchandising on the festival grounds. However, something that is not necessarily explained in Vang’s book is the consequence of the changing dynamics because of the commercialized space. What is the predicted outcome of these Hmong New Year festivals if these spaces continue to be a place for small businesses to profit off of their customers rather than to celebrate the traditions of the Hmong culture? What are the motivations for small business owners to use these spaces to sell their products? Are these spaces jeopardized from the capitalist society we live in and if so, will it change the way we see Hmong traditional practices in our culture? What other alternatives should we seek in order to celebrate our culture without the space being commercialized or is it impossible?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Liz Shigetoshi - Week 8

In “Continuity and Reinventions of Traditions”, author, Chai Youyee Vang, describes the struggle between sustaining old Hmong traditions and adopting new ones as more Hmong people are forced to move and migrate over to the United States. One of the main practices/celebrations she introduces is the Hmong New Year celebration. She also mentions how the struggle is due to the displacement of refugees, the growing generation gap, and the change in rights and freedom present in America. This questions the ability to maintain a sense of continuity and authenticity. To what point are practices considered not authentic? Are people of other background allowed to learn the rituals or do they have to be Hmong?

Reading this chapter made me reflect on how this sense of tradition versus invention and modernization occurs for all ethnicities coming to America. From what I've seen and from what Vang elaborates on, there's a lot of Hmong religious and cultural rituals and practices that are very distinct and unique to the Hmong community. Unfortunately, when it comes to defining the culture, it's not easy to make everyone in any community happy; there has to be a willingness to adjust and compromise over time. I would feel really torn to choose between the ways of the older generations and the ways of the newer generations: I feel it's important to remember, respect, and appreciate where you've come from, and at the same time it' hard teach a new generation older traditions and expect it to remain the same or "authentic".

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Quynh Dinh-Week 7

In “Deporting Our Souls and Defending Our Immigrants” Bill Ong Hing addressed that “I wonder if some of the so-called criminality activity is a fabrication by our institutions just to get rid of the undesirable Asian once again.” After studying more about American history, I also end up wondering the same thing. Immigrant assimilation occurs as a result of war. To the U.S, immigrants with different cultures rushing to America might disrupt their peaceful, organized society. So by playing role as a “gatekeeping nation”, the U.S. use immigration laws to restrict and exclude “undesirable immigrants.” The laws have changed and become stricter and stricter over time. When an immigrant commits a crime, he or she will be considered as a threat, undesirable and should be disposable. They will be deported to their original country despite how long they’ve lived in the U.S. Deportation has hurt many family when a husband or wife being separated because of the crime they committed years ago. and what about their children who born in the U.S.? Who will take care of them? There is no second chance, no mercy. The U.S only takes the one that could give them benefits and they will kick out the undesirable one without reconsideration. At the end, it questions the ideal of assimilation. Is it simply just for economic and social gain purpose? 

Quynh Dinh-Research Proposal

 “It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”
                                                                                                             -Albert Einstein
My research will be circled around the U.S. War Crimes. During Vietnam War, many “slaughtering” style missions had been authorized for body count purpose. To achieve the number, they would kill anyone. By “anyone” I meant not only the VC but also unharmed civilians (young to old men, women, children, and even infants). One of the vivid examples is the My Lai massacre, 1968. The order was “Kill anything that moves” and “Search and Destroy”. And with that permission, bullets were blindly fired.
Besides massive murder, other committed crimes are rapes and body mutilation. Even though in the 1970s, interviews and investigations had been opened but nothing leased until 2005. The higher-up covered them all: “A massive 9 thousand pages of evidence implicating U.S. troops in a wide range of atrocities…the Pentagon kept the entire collection under wraps” (Nelson pg. 2).
The U.S. goal of going to VN war is to assist Democracy and prevent the spread of Communism in VN. They came to help Vietnamese people, to liberate the country from the North communists. But what was that with all the gruesome slaughter on unharmed civilians? I see a huge contradiction between the U.S.’s intention and their act. Therefore in my paper, I want to criticize the U.S. perceptions about VN. The fact that they came to VN without knowing VN culture and history lead to false assumptions, misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
-books/ journals/DVD’s/ oral interview clips.  

Here is the link for the interview of U.S. vets who involved in My Lai massacre.

There are more collective video interview about VN war in website Library of Congress: