Friday, January 31, 2020

Week 5 Jennifer Nguyen Bernal ASA 150E

Jennifer Nguyen Bernal
Professor Valverde
ASA 150E

In the reading "Nothing Evers Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of the War" by Viet Thanh Nguyen, talked about the forgotten  Vietnamese civilians and soldiers, and their histories suppressed, so the world won't know what happens. Viet Thanh Nguyen talks about how Koreans soldiers were in Vietnam and their immigration to America. Koreans were part of the "model minority stereotype, and America supported this anti-welfare narrative. He compares Vietnam and Korea by saying that they have different morals, but South Korea's success was due to causing a dehumanizing war in Vietnam. Their success has humanized them, and the world no longer sees South Korea as subjects of terror. Due to success, it came at a price of human sacrifice in wars, soldiers putting their lives on the line. Hollywood's job was to justify the Vietnam War and suppress the history of Vietnamese people. South Koreans were writing and have movies on their perspective of the Vietnam war. Novelist Hwang Suk-Young wrote The Shadows of Arm, which explains the influence that America had on ideas of capitalism, racism, and American PX. American PX was supposedly "civilized" the Vietnamese. Ahn Junghyo, who wrote, White Badge, talks about how Americans had influenced South Koreans to use racism against Vietnamese soldiers by calling them "gooks." Before America accepted Koreans as their ally, Americans had used that term on them. Graham Greene's book, The Quiet American, shows the issue with poor Vietnamese women marrying unwanted Korean men. I didn't know that there were South Koreans in Vietnam, and it was interesting that they wrote their point of view of the Vietnam War, and show the root of human behavior like despair. The novel White Badge covers the idea of cost and myths of manhood in the Vietnam War. The movie kept the novel's themes of antiheroic and anti-American. Not only it captures the struggle of the South Koreans, but it also showed how it help Korea transform into a capitalist society. However, the Vietnamese's perspective in the novel wasn't in the movie. These movies and books show that the South Koreans are human and victims of doing the bidding of Americans. Many Vietnamese remember Koreans as "violently atrocious crime of the American aggressor and the South Koreans mercenaries" (Nguyen 150). The South Koreans favored over the Vietnamese soldiers and have the same behavior as the American with their racism. Now Korea is a global society, but at the cost of human sacrifices, those who died in the war. Viet Thank Ngyuen explains how there was a memorial that's hidden in Da Nang, but there was no explanation of the monument. Korean Veterans paid for the statue and suppressed the stories about Vietnamese who died by South Korean's soldier hands.
Did South Korean soldiers already feel hostile and racism against Vietnamese? Or is it American influence that the treat Vietnamese soldiers this way? Would they be under the colonial mentality since they feel acceptance from the Americans?

Week 5_Janine Nguyen_ASA 150E

In Week 5, we go over the following theme: Forgotten, Suppressed, Invisible Histories; to address this issue, it is important to restructure the narrative, especially to offer a platform to underrepresented Asian American voices, such as Vietnamese perspectives. In Viet Thanh Nguyen's book, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, he emphasizes how Vietnamese writers play a key role in addressing this prominent issue in American literature, particularly in Chapter 7: On Victims and Voices. It is crucial to recognize the oral histories that Asian Americans carry, such as through the stories they tell through photographs, past memories, and the lingering sentiment they feel towards the U.S. or the home country. Identifying these cues can help us bring light to the ongoing issues that haunt the Vietnamese American community, especially when evaluating possible reasons to why intergenerational trauma is difficult to counter, given existing obstacles such as language and cultural barriers. 

Personally, I found this chapter to be relevant, especially in my own personal life. I am a second-generation Vietnamese American, so often it can be difficult for me to communicate with my older family members. This made me feel validated, and quite honestly, empowered. I think it is an understatement to say that Vietnamese American perspectives are overlooked; however, it is time for us to preserve our histories, especially the testaments of the Vietnam War, to demonstrate that our voices will be heard. To bring light to these stories, it is time for us to strategize to see what we can do in our own power to bring awareness to these issues. Having access to this liberal education has allowed me to broaden my depth of knowledge, especially in terms of my own history; before, I never had the chance to learn about the Vietnam War in my formal education. For example, if I had never took it upon my own hands to look into Agent Orange, I probably would have never learned about it in my AP World History class in high school…

This begs the question, what can we do to empower these unheard voices? Besides through official means such as publishing texts, or even organizing exhibits, what can the average person do? As a fellow college student, I find myself overwhelmed in work, whether it be through my job or my studies. It can be difficult to partake in these types of involved movements, and I feel that many people can relate. Moreover, what can we do to advocate for those who have been suppressed?

The following photo depicts Vietnamese women reminiscing over the past, as they look at the graves in the cemeteries.

Nguyen, Viet Thanh. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War. Harvard University Press, 2016. 
Magazine, Meld. “A Tale of Two Generations: The Vietnam War's Impact on the Current Vietnamese-Australian Population.” Meld Magazine - Australia's International Student News Website, 15 Apr. 2016,

Week 5 Ellen Hickman ASA150E

One of the key concepts in Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War was that there are still American influences in Korea after their involvement as allies with the United States during the Vietnam War. One of the key influential cultural aspects mentioned was the global phenomenon of K-pop. Although most Americans would associate it with Korean culture, many western concepts transmitted through a war radio station intended for an American audience. The name of the main radio station was AFKN, which was started to teach American soldiers about Korean culture while playing popular music from the United states. This station also reached Koreans and allowed them to gather sounds from the United States. Learning this style was not only interesting, but also allowed them to perform in shows that favored western audiences. The author writes that “Korean culture became the new cool” (Nguyen 132). In thinking of how this culture had been shaped by America’s involvement during their wars, I wondered if there was a similar culture assimilation in countries like Afghanistan. Apparently there is. During an interview by Sudarsan Raghavan a youth in Afgaistan, Mahmood Rezai, told them that he “loved gangsta rap” (Raghavan). This shows that as America music influenced the Koreans during the war, the United States also is influencing other countries that they have been at war with through culture.

Although music may seem harmless, labeling another’s culture as better or worse can be detrimental. What might be cultural music that you know of to be influenced by war with a rival nation?

Raghavan, Sudarsan. “Years after Invasion, the U.S. Leaves a Cultural Imprint on Afghanistan.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 June 2015,

Nguyen, Viet Thanh. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War. Harvard University Press, 2017.

Week 5_Rosanna Oung_ASA 150E

Chapter 7 of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s book, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and Memory of War, discusses the role of Vietnamese writers in American literary work. Nguyen argues that victims and refugees who carry photographs and memories are constantly being haunted by loved ones and other relatives (195). Photographs and literary writing are extremely powerful, because it serves as a tribute to those who sacrificed and lost their lives during the Vietnam War. These physical items can be passed down to multiple generations and it ensures the memories and narratives of older relatives live on. 
It is crucial to preserve the narratives of soldiers, refugees, and victims because it allows for future generations, especially the SEA community, to understand the different perspectives of the Vietnam War. Moreover, it will prevent any possibility for communities to view the war from one sided perspective. Thus, we must continue to preserve evidence of Vietnam war to guarantee that loved ones, victims, soldiers, and relatives are not forgotten, silenced, or invisible. 

Question: How were Vietnamese American writers able to publish and share their literary work in America despite the tensions between groups after the war?

Source for image: 

Nguyen, Viet Thanh. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War. Harvard University Press, 2016. 

Sunday, January 26, 2020


Week Four – Third World Alliances and Social-Political Movements
Encompassing Wu’s Radicals on the Road is one of my favorite lyrics from Lady Gaga’s “Come to Mama”: “Everybody’s got to love each other. Stop throwing stones at your sisters and your brothers.”

What Wu’s Radicals on the Road demonstrates is the formation of third world alliances, particularly amongst the global sisterhood. In the introduction, Wu describes how people are fascinated and drawn by the truths of the Vietnam War, figuring out ways to reveal its truths and combatting it amongst the general public as well. But what highlights the motives of dismantling the already given propaganda is the women behind this movement, by understanding these people who were initially seen as “enemies”, highlighted by the United States, are indeed humans and sisters just like us and one another. What values these women have brought to the table is challenging the given and finding ways to bring the concept of sisterhood and alliance amongst the topics of violence and war. They heavily contributed to what was the anti-war movement of the Vietnam War.

In today’s context, we can see multiple communities being involved with one another through the form of allyship – though one may not be particularly affected or may be presented as someone or a group to be judged upon, one is able to challenge and support that one group’s challenges and endeavors. An example of allyship and alliances in today’s context is people who are trying to prevent the wars in the Middle East, people who are trying to advocate for illegal immigration and dismantling the “illegal” narrative; in short, people who are challenging the system and the propagandistic word that we now know as “enemy”.

Anti-war protesters organize after US killed Iranian general | USA Today

Week 4_Shannon Ngo_ASA150E

Shannon Ngo

In her book Radicals on the Road, Judy Tzu-Chun Wu discusses female involvement in international conferences to battle against oppression from the patriarchy, underscoring the devastations unleashed during the war and rallying women together in a grand union of sisterhood. These women and their actions challenged the female stereotype, pushing forward the notion of strong heroism, fighting for their rights and beliefs. They formed an alliance, seeking common ground to build camaraderie against the ultimate goal of saving the oppressed. This emphasized the narratives of women during the war, revealing the struggles they faced while most of the spotlight shone on the men. Their voices went unheard, but these conferences empowered them, calling attention to their suffering and injustices. However, these conferences remain largely unknown. 

Not many people were even aware of this movement. I didn’t realize these alliances were even an aspect of the Vietnam War. And yet, it’s not surprising that their actions weren’t given as much publicity as say, the veterans. Minority groups are often pushed aside, ignored in the face of the dominant one. To this day, women are still ranked lower than men. 

How then do we ensure the narratives of the oppressed are heard? How do we bridge the gap between men and women and lessen the inequality?

Image Source:

Source: Wu, Judy Tzu-Chun. Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era. Cornell University Press, 2013.

Week 4_Ariana Danao_ASA150E

For this week's theme centering around, "Third World Alliances and Socio-Political Movements, I found the readings to be empowering and eye opening to read more on the role of womxn in activism during the Vietnam Era. Majority of the time, womxn are stripped from the narrative and not usually talked about, let alone focused on. In the reading for this week, a quote that stuck out to me was, Rather than seeing themselves only in terms of their race, gender, or class, they began to understand how multiple systems of social hierarchy operated simultaneously to shape their lives.". This quote reminds me of the idea of intersectionality and how it plays into these multiple social systems that are created to find/determine order and class. This stuck with me because this quote led to the explanation of how womxn leaned on womxn during this time whether it was search for inspiration or even support. It creates and paints a new narrative for womxn as we are used to hearing stories of them being house wives - now, we are learning about how womxn played a big hand in some of these movements.

My question is this: If womxn played such a big roles in many of these movements, why are they continuously being forgotten and leaving their stories untold?

Similar to the readings, these womxn are shown breaking the stigma of womxn only being good as house wives. It shows just how bad ass womxn were back then and what they are fully capable of.

North Vietnamese women learning to use a machine gun.

WEEK4_xinyu yang

In the reading“ Radicals on the Road“the author mentioned that women of different backgrounds established a multi-ethnic anti-war movement and the influence and significance of gender in it. And the author mentions that female activists were one of the earliest travelers and played an important role in the anti-war movement. 
These movements have also encouraged women from different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs to interact with each other, influence each other, and learn from each other. This also helps western women understand that Asian women are not just the oppressed groups in a patriarchal society. It also helps western women's rights groups understand that Asian women are not just persecuted in patriarchal societies. Both parties are more like partners and together promote global sisterhood and peace. Their voices bear considerable social responsibility and significance.
In my experience, Asian women are often considered docile and obedient most of the time, but the women in the author's book are strong and independent. I remember a very interesting discussion: More female leaders, will the world be more peaceful Whether this question is the stereotypes and discrimination for females?

"It is an image of a mother holding a gun and her baby. She is one of the women warriors of Viet Nam. (Image of Mother with Gun: Taken from Gidra magazine)"

Week 4 Ellen Hickman ASA 150 E

In the readings, one quote that stood out to me referred to an oriental presentation of white women encountering a savior complex. Although I have seen this before in how some people approach charity work, the quote stood out to me because it made me question my own motives for my life. It stated that, “elite Western women tend to conceive of marginalized women in their own society as well as non-Western women as victims of patriarchy in need of rescue by their more enlightened sisters” (Judy Tzu-Chun Wu Pg 6). I don’t feel that way about other women in the slightest, or at least they were my first reaction. There are so many women out there who are all working on their own paths who hustle way harder than I do. Many of these women also have encouraged me to question my own major choices and if I am living out my dream or that if my parents. However, what I can question are my initial reactions to different cultural practices than what I have grown up with. Sometimes I’m caught off guard by something and it takes me a minute to evaluate it objectively rather than emotionally. Like the time I tried salty duck egg for the first time. It was not something I had eaten growing up so in my mind I marveled that anyone could like it. Although I personally did not appreciate the flavors as much, I should have considered that others have different tastes than I do. For a second there I did look down on the duck egg, but instead I needed to understand what a delicacy it is for some cultures rather than think my way of having no duck egg was better. As the chapter continued it explained the struggles of multiple groups, culture, during the height of war. However, one common thread is that all women from all the different groups represented looked past the culture clash duck eggs to promote peace. My question is what duck eggs are we letting get in the way of working together for social justice?

Week 4_Melanie Manuel_ASA 150E

Melanie Manuel
ASA 150E 001
25 January 2020

The theme of this week: “Third World Alliances and Social-Political Movements” is a rather interesting one, because as Professor Valverde says, it “turns history on its head” by reconfiguring how hegemonic discourses depicts the role of women in war. Particularly in Judy Tzu-Chun Wu’s Radicals on the Road, her chapter called “We Met the ‘Enemy’—and They Are Our Sisters” prove to disprove how Southeast Asian women sat back and solely became war fodder, which simply just means they were there to be killed or, rather, silenced. In Wu’s chapter, she discusses a much larger role in which Southeast Asian women were very much at the forefront of bringing attention to the atrocities of the Vietnam War. This creates a different image of women at the time, rather than just working in factories and taking care of households, we are given an image of how American women were working to understand what was happening, while also reaching out to women of these countries to hear their stories. This is important because women are textually silenced consistently, probably even more so in the realm of war, and so to have this take is extremely important in understanding the larger picture as well as the resistance of Southeast Asian women happening during this time.

I embedded an image of a poster that advocates for the solidarity of Southeast Asian overseas. The use of “brothers” and “sisters” indicates more than just vouching for the sake of people, but rather a claim in standing beside them in their fight to freedom. This inclusion is important, and not quite highlighted in today’s textbooks, even if it is an extremely vital moment in history. 

Works Cited
Wu, Judy Tzu-Chun. “Chapter 7: We Met the ‘Enemy’—and They Are Our Sisters.” Radicals on the Road, 2013, pp. 193-218. 

Image Used