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Disaster, Settlement, and Belonging: Wavering Diaspora in Vietnamese New Orleans

Disaster, Settlement, and Belonging: Wavering Diaspora in Vietnamese New Orleans
1 Devonshire Place, Room 208N
Time: Jan 29th, 4:00 pm End: Jan 29th, 6:00 pm
Interest Categories: United States Studies, South Asian, Sociology (FAS), Religion, Study of (FAS), Political Science, East Asian Studies (FAS), Diaspora/Transnational, Anthropology (UTSC), Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS), 2000-
Lecture by Hoang Vu Nguyen, doctoral candidate in Anthropology, University of Toronto


Disaster, Settlement, and Belonging: Wavering Diaspora in Vietnamese New Orleans

Vietnamese Americans in New Orleans (approximately 7,000 people) have been praised as a successful case of resilience among other local ethnic minorities after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. By revisiting Hurricane Katrina, Nguyen’s research shows a need to reconsider the exaggerated claims for the success of the Vietnamese. In contrast to other scholars who argued for the close-knit nature of a diasporic community (Cohen 1997; Safran 1991), he points out the fluid identity of Vietnamese immigrants that played a role in struggling for recognition. Instead of taking the Vietnamese as a homogenous minority group, his research illustrates a divergence among Vietnamese generations on local incidents upon their return to New Orleans. Five years after Katrina, the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig of British Petroleum (BP) in the Gulf of Mexico has hit the local economy once again. By drawing attention to race, poverty, and religion, his research has examined a negotiation process in which Vietnamese Americans wavered between a diaspora and an ethnic group. The thesis not only contributes to the current debate on the fluidity of diaspora (Clifford 1994; Dorais 2010), but it also reveals a product of white institutional power in the BP compensation agenda.

Hoang Vu Nguyen received a Master’s Degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 2007. For his Master’s thesis, he investigated the impact of the urbanization process on residents in Hanoi, Vietnam. Hoang works at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (VME), specializing in Indonesia and East Timor. He has conducted several field trips to Indonesia, Brunei, and Laos to study and collect cultural artifacts for the Opening Exhibition of the Southeast Asian Building of the VME. He is now interested in studying overseas Vietnamese and their relations with the homeland, for which he is pursuing a PhD program in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register for this event, please go to the Munk School of Global Affairs Events page: http://munkschool.utoronto.ca/events/.

For more information, please contact the Centre for the Study of the United States at (416) 946-8972.

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