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Treacherous Subjects

Gender, Culture, and Trans-Vietnamese Feminism

Lan P Duong

Publication Year: 2012

Treacherous Subjects is a provocative and thoughtful examination of Vietnamese films and literature viewed through a feminist lens. Lan Duong investigates the postwar cultural productions of writers and filmmakers, including Tony Bui, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Tran Anh Hung.

Taking her cue from the double meaning of "collaborator," Duong shows how history has shaped the loyalties and shifting alliances of the Vietnamese, many of whom are caught between opposing/constricting forces of nationalism, patriarchy, and communism. Working at home and in France and the United States, the artists profiled in Treacherous Subjects have grappled with the political and historic meanings of collaboration. These themes, which probe into controversial issues of family and betrayal, figure heavily in fictions such as the films The Scent of Green Papaya and Surname Viet Given Name Nam.

As writers and filmmakers collaborate, Duong suggests that they lay the groundwork for both transnational feminist politics and queer critiques of patriarchy.

Published by: Temple University Press


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Title Page, Further Reading, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

A book on collaboration must acknowledge all of those collaborators who have helped make this book possible. At UC Irvine, I worked with a number of professors who were formative in shaping my intellectual inquiries from the beginning, guiding me toward the career path I am on today. ...

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pp. 1-22

With a flash of light, a newspaper photographer’s camera captured the moment of my family’s arrival to the United States in Butler, Pennsylvania, in 1975. This grainy, black-and-white image accompanied a story that detailed how my family members had become the wards of a Catholic Church and the first refugees to arrive in this small town. ...

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1. Manufacturing Feminine Virtue: The Films of Tony Bui and Tran Anh Hung

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pp. 23-56

In the mid-1990s, Hồ Chí Minh City and Hà Nội banned the use of cyclos on their main thoroughfares, restricting the vehicles to the cities’ key tourist zones. Despite the prohibitions, sightseeing in a cyclo remains the tourist commodity par excellence, lavishly described in travel brochures and on websites as an obligatory experience ...

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2. Colonial Histories, Postcolonial Narratives: Traitors and Collaborators in Vietnamese Women’s Diasporic Literature

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pp. 57-89

When Le Ly Hayslip’s cowritten autobiographies When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (1989) and Child of War, Woman of Peace (1993) first came out, US reviewers and reading audiences warmly embraced them.1 Hayslip’s works achieved great commercial success; they were translated in seventeen different languages ...

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3. Heroes and Traitors: The Gendered Fictions of Đặng Nhật Minh and Dương Thư Hương

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pp. 90-121

“Cô là người phản bội.” In a Western-style café in Hà Nội, Dương Thu Hương tells me levelly that she is the country’s traitor, a glint of mischief in her eyes. We talk for hours about her difficult relations with the state as the sounds of Vietnamese pop music play in the background.1 ...

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4. Traitors and Translators: Reframing Trinh T. Minh-ha’s Surname Viet Given Name Nam and A Tale of Love

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pp. 122-147

As a Vietnamese woman declares in Trinh T. Minh-ha’s Surname Viet Given Name Nam, “heroism is monstrous.” In the film, she was speaking as part of a generation of Vietnamese women who live in postsocialist Việt Nam and for whom conditions have not changed much in the wake of national revolutions. ...

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5. Betraying Feminine Virtue: Collaborative Effects and the Transnational Circuits of Vietnamese Popular Culture

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pp. 148-178

On a balmy summer evening in 2004, the crowds for Vũ Ngọc Đãng’s Những Cô Gái Chân Dài, or Long-Legged Girls, at the Korean-owned Diamond Plaza in Hồ Chí Minh City were enormous. Sleek motorbikes were parked in rows around the mall; animated throngs of young, fashionable people congregated for drinks before they watched the new film. ...

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Conclusion: Family Politics and the Art of Collaboration

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pp. 179-188

Peter Davies concludes his book Dangerous Liaisons: Collaboration and World War Two with a discussion of the Nazi collaborator, Maurice Papon, who was freed from prison in 2002, following his ten-year sentence for sending French Jews to concentration camps during World War II. ...


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pp. 189-214

Works Cited

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pp. 215-242


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pp. 243-253

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9781439901793
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439901786

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 15
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 787866943
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Treacherous Subjects

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- Vietnamese American authors.
  • American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • American literature -- 21st century -- History and criticism.
  • Vietnamese diaspora.
  • Authorship -- Collaboration.
  • Motion pictures -- Production and direction.
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