Exile and return : deterritorialising national imaginaries in Vietnam and the diaspora

Carruthers, Ashley

University of Sydney
Faculty of Arts
Depatement of Anthropology

 PhD thesis

(Please use this identifier to cite or link to this itemhttp://hdl.handle.net/2123/1692)

Abstract

This work draws on the insights of an anthropology of transnationalism to explore an emergent field of translocal connections, practices and identifications between reformed Vietnam and the post-1975 Vietnamese diaspora in the West. In the post Cold War period, it is argued, we have witnessed a collapse of the geopolitics of exile that once divided diaspora and homeland. In this context, it is not appropriate for Vietnamese migration studies to speak of “two” discrete national and diasporic Vietnamese communities. Rather, the discipline is required to come to terms (theoretically and empirically) with a complex and contradictory field of transnational social relationships through which diaspora and homeland are co-constituted. The thesis charts this field via the study of phenomena such as: the explosion of mobility between Vietnam and diaspora· the emergence of a transnational Vietnamese language commercial music culture; the constitution of translocal Vietnamese urban spaces in the host nations; the enabling of symbolic and market citizenship in a Vietnamese “transnation”; and the flow of overseas Vietnamese “grey” and “green” matter (cultural and material capital) back into Vietnam. Exile and fleturn shows how the state in Vietnam, and elites in the diaspora, have responded to the advent of transnational flows between homeland and diasporic sites by authoring both traditional, border-enforcing and novel, borderexpanding strategies of imagining and governing the “national” community. It argues that overseas Vietnamese have made sense of their own transits to and engagements with Vietnam through a logic of’ transnational exilic space” that variously resists and accommodates the claims of capital, the state and diasporic belonging.

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