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Challenging the monolithic representation of the Viet Nam War: Contemporary diasporic Vietnamese writers re-presenting themselves

Nina Ha, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation explores works by 1.5 (immigrant or refugee children who were born in Viet Nam but spent their childhood in the U.S.) or second-generation Vietnamese Americans or Vietnamese living in the diaspora that are written in or translated into English, between the years of 1990 to 2003. Given the heterogeneity of authors whose works I examine, my dissertation analyzes the literature of this globalized Vietnamese community, paying particular attention to members who have made the U.S. their home yet may view themselves as transnational, diasporic subjects. My research is also based upon various genres of literature. I use texts such as autobiographies and memoirs as well as fictional novels, short stories, and poetry. They also include articles and essays from the internet and in various mainstream newspapers and “alternative” presses and journals. The reason for looking at different venues of documentation is due to the scarcity of published writings by 1.5 and second-generation Vietnamese American authors. By utilizing both internet sites and materials in print media and juxtaposing these documents with published books and anthologies, I show the contradictions, reveal the fissures, and disclose the multiplicity of voices of these 1.5 and second-generation Vietnamese American writers. Especially vital to this study is how writers who are part of the 1.5 or second-generation are invested in creating new models of representation for reading, writing, and understanding their respective communities. The reason that I study the ways in which these writers interrogate, negotiate, and re-define both themselves and communities in which they live is largely due to the perception of the dominant U.S. culture and its fixed view of Viet Nam and the Vietnamese people. The dominant U.S. cultural perception sees those living in Viet Nam and in the diaspora as representatives of a twenty-year war that was fought more than 25 years ago. In my research, I argue that these 1.5 and second-generation Vietnamese diasporic writers challenge this hegemonic image.

Subject Area

American literature|American studies|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Ha, Nina, "Challenging the monolithic representation of the Viet Nam War: Contemporary diasporic Vietnamese writers re-presenting themselves" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3110497.