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Viet Nam

Borderless Histories

Edited by Nhung Tuyet Tran and Anthony Reid

Publication Year: 2006

Moving beyond past histories of Viet Nam that have focused on nationalist struggle, this volume brings together work by scholars who are re-examining centuries of Vietnamese history.  Crossing borders and exploring ambiguities, the essays in Viet Nam: Borderless Histories draw on international archives and bring a range of inventive analytical approaches to the global, regional, national, and local narratives of Vietnamese history. Among the topics explored are the extraordinary diversity between north and south, lowland and highland, Viet and minority, and between colonial, Chinese, Southeast Asian, and dynastic influences. The result is an exciting new approach to Southeast Asia's past that uncovers the complex and rich history of Viet Nam.

“A wonderful introduction to the exciting work that a new generation of scholars is engaging in.”—Liam C. Kelley, International Journal of Asian Studies

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

This volume has been made possible by a new generation of Việt Nam scholars, much richer in both numbers and diversity than their predecessors. The idea for a conference to bring together international Việt Nam scholars grew out of one held at the University...

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A Note on Terminology/Transliteration

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pp. ix

To ensure consistency, we decided to maintain Vietnamese terms with complete diacritics in the text. Chinese terms have been rendered in the contemporary romanization standards in Hán-Việt or pinyin...

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Introduction: The Construction of Vietnamese Historical Identities

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pp. 3-22

Few historiographies have borne such a strong national imprint as that of Việt Nam in the twentieth century. Engaged through much of that century in a fierce battle for national identity and survival, Vietnamese historians and their international sympathizers focused intently on the grand narrative of national struggle against China, ...

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1. Research on the Vietnamese Village: Assessment and Perspectives

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pp. 23-41

Việt Nam is an agricultural country with the majority of its population living in rural communities throughout the countryside. The village (làng) has played an important role in the country’s historical development and remains significant in its economic transition.1 Even with the gradual shift toward industrialization, agriculture still...

Constructing Việt against a Hán World

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2. Lê Văn Hu'u and Ngô Sĩ Liên: A Comparison of Their Perception of Vietnamese History

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pp. 45-71

Until the mid-1980s, historians in Hà Nội usually characterized Vietnamese history as a “struggle for national independence.” Vietnamese history was portrayed as a fight to preserve national independence against an onslaught of foreign aggression: Chinese, French, or American. Although...

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3. Chinese Gunpowder Technology and Ɖại Việt, ca. 1390–1497

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pp. 72-120

There is a large lacunae in Asian military history on the transfer of Chinese gunpowder technology to Southeast Asia before the sack of Melaka by the Portuguese in 1511. Elsewhere I have shown how the gunpowder...

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4. Beyond the Myth of Equality: Daughters’ Inheritance Rights in the Lê Code

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pp. 121-144

In the historiography on Việt Nam, women emerge as a distinct sign of that country’s cultural heritage. Women mark “tradition” and appear in three reified forms: as signs of Confucian oppression; of Vietnamese uniqueness; or of Southeast Asian...

Southern Pluralities

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5. The Eighteenth-Century Mekong Delta and Its World of Water Frontier

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pp. 147-162

Water is the most important feature of the Mekong Delta. It is present in hundreds of place names in the delta itself as well as in the names of the kingdoms arising in the area. It was no accident that the area was called Water Chenla in eighth-century Chinese records, nor was...

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6. One Region, Two Histories: Cham Precedents in the History of the Hội An Region

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pp. 163-193

While researching the long-term history of a Vietnamese port and its hinterland, I found myself faced with two separate bodies of scholarship, one Vietnamese, the other Cham. At some indistinguishable point, Vietnamese history ended, and...

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7. Transnationalism and Multiethnicity in the Early Nguyễn Ánh Gia Long Period

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pp. 194-216

During the war fought between the Tây Sơn dynasty and the Nguyễn dynasty for control of Viễt Nam (1773–1802), both the Nguyễn emperor Nguyễn Ánh Gia Long (r. 1782–1820) in southern Viễt Nam...

Rediscovering Vietnamese-European Encounters

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8. Crossing Oceans, Crossing Boundaries: The Remarkable Life of Philiphê Bỉnh (1759–1832)

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pp. 219-255

In late February 1796, a thirty-seven-year-old Vietnamese Jesuit priest named Philiphê Bỉnh boarded an English trading vessel in the waters near Macao and began a four-month journey to the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. With him traveled three other Vietnamese Catholics and...

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9. Strangers in a Foreign Land: Vietnamese Soldiers and Workers in France during World War I

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pp. 256-289

In World War I about ninety-nine thousand men from Indochina were recruited to serve in France as soldiers and workers. In the English-speaking world a few scholars, such as Virginia Thompson, Joseph Buttinger, and David Marr, have claimed that these men were con-scripted labor and were treated as slaves, and it is widely believed ...

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10. Recasting Pigneau de Béhaine: Missionaries and the Politics of French Colonial History, 1894–1914

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pp. 290-322

For many scholars of French colonialism, the figure of Pigneau de Béhaine, bishop of Adran, represents a critical moment in the history of the French presence in Southeast Asia. History books—from scholarly texts to more popular narratives—commonly recount how the...


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pp. 325-331


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pp. 332-366


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pp. 367-369


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pp. 370-386

E-ISBN-13: 9780299217730
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299217747

Publication Year: 2006