Youth and Empire: Trans-Colonial Childhoods in British and French Asia

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-05-14 19:04Z by Steven

Youth and Empire: Trans-Colonial Childhoods in British and French Asia

Stanford University Press
December 2015
416 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9780804795173

David M. Pomfret, Professor of History
University of Hong Kong

This is the first study of its kind to provide such a broadly comparative and in-depth analysis of children and empire. Youth and Empire brings to light new research and new interpretations on two relatively neglected fields of study: the history of imperialism in East and South East Asia and, more pointedly, the influence of childhood—and children’s voices—on modern empires.

By utilizing a diverse range of unpublished source materials drawn from three different continents, David M. Pomfret examines the emergence of children and childhood as a central historical force in the global history of empire in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This book is unusual in its scope, extending across the two empires of Britain and France and to points of intense impact in “tropical” places where indigenous, immigrant, and foreign cultures mixed: Hong Kong, Singapore, Saigon, and Hanoi. It thereby shows how childhood was crucial to definitions of race, and thus European authority, in these parts of the world. By examining the various contradictory and overlapping meanings of childhood in colonial Asia, Pomfret is able to provide new and often surprising readings of a set of problems that continue to trouble our contemporary world.

Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Introduction
  • 1. Childhood and the Reordering of Empire
  • 2. Tropical Childhoods: Health, Hygiene and Nature
  • 3. Cultural Contagions: Children in the Colonial Home
  • 4. Magic Islands: Children on Display in Colonialisms’ Cultures
  • 5. Trouble in Fairyland: Cultures of Childhood in Interwar Asia
  • 6. Intimate Heights: Children, Nature and Colonial Urban Planning
  • 7. Sick Traffic: ‘Child Slavery’ and Imperial Networks
  • 8. Class Reactions: Education and Colonial ‘Comings of Age’
  • 9. Raising Eurasia: Childhood, Youth and the Mixed Race Question
  • 10. Conclusion
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Interview with Genarao Kỳ Lý Smith on “The Land Baron’s Sun”

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive on 2017-03-19 01:47Z by Steven

Interview with Genarao Kỳ Lý Smith on “The Land Baron’s Sun”

Interminable Rambling
2015-12-10

Matthew Teutsch, Instructor
Department of English
Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

Last post, I wrote about Genarao Kỳ Lý Smith’s The Land Baron’s Sun. Today, I am sharing a recent interview I conducted with Smith. In the video above, Smith talks more about his grandfather and reads two poems from The Land Baron’s Sun.

In the acknowledgements of The Land Baron’s Sun, you write about Darrell Bourque telling you that your grandfather’s “story needs to be heard” because it is an important story to everyone. What makes Lý Loc’s story so significant?

Lý Loc came from a privileged life: inherited land from his father who was only known as the land baron (to this day, my mother does not know his name), had seven wives, twenty-seven children, seven houses (1 per wife), mistresses to go with each wife; he was a major commander for the South Vietnamese Army.  When the Fall of Saigon occurred, he lost everything to the point of writing my mother a few years later asking for money, food, medicine, and clothes.  It is a tragic story that needs to be told.  The idea of someone who had it all to living as a pauper is and has always been an intriguing story.  Also, had I not known about his seven wives or his privileged lifestyle, his story would have died with my mother.  The goal therefore was to resurrect his life, the lives of his wives and their children.  The purpose of writing the book was to leave his legacy.  I simply did not want him to die…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Land South of the Clouds

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2017-03-09 01:48Z by Steven

The Land South of the Clouds

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press
2016-10-25
350 pages
Softcover ISBN: 9781935754800

Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith, Professor of Creative Writing
Louisiana Tech University

It is the summer of 1979–the year of Apocalypse Now, long lines at the gas pumps, and American hostages in Iran–and 10-year-old Long Vanh is burdened with the secret his mother, Vu-An, entrusted him to keep: not to tell anyone of her desire to return to Vietnam to be with her father who is serving hard labor in a reeducation camp.

As a con lai–half Vietnamese, half black–Long Vanh struggles to see his place in “Asia Minor,” an enclave of Los Angeles comprised of veterans and their foreign war wives. He sees his inability to speak or read his mother’s native language, or even maneuver chopsticks perfectly, as flaws, and hopes that if he can compensate for them, his mother will stay in America to keep the family intact.

The Land South of the Clouds serves as the companion piece to The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story of Lý Loc and His Seven Wives. It is the story of immigrant families meshing into the fabric of American culture, their memories of the old country weighing on their conscience, and the repercussions they feel even from thousand of miles away on another continent, in another world, another life.

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The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story of Lý Loc and His Seven Wives

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Poetry on 2017-03-08 01:09Z by Steven

The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story of Lý Loc and His Seven Wives

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press
2014
108 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781935754350

Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith, Professor of Creative Writing
Louisiana Tech University

The Land Baron’s Sun chronicles through poetry the life of Lý Loc, the son of an affluent Vietnamese landowner who was thought to own the sun by his children, wives, servants, and tenant farmers because it had always shone favorably upon him. Lý Loc lived just as prosperous a life, one in which he rose to the rank of major commander for the South Vietnamese Army and was attended to by seven wives who bore him twenty-seven children. On April 20, 1975, the day Saigon fell, fate took a cruel turn for Lý Loc, as the sun, a symbol of the divine love, refused to shine. His capture by the Việt Cộng and incarceration in a reeducation camp marked only the beginning of the sun recouping all that it had bestowed upon Lý Loc and his family. Smith’s poems delve into Lý Loc’s childhood and adult life, his years spent in the reeducation camp, and his wives’ and children’s fate—both in Vietnam and, for those who were fortunate enough to escape, in America. The poems expose the beauty and freedom of the human spirit and the lushness that was once Vietnam; likewise, they show the undeniable oppression of a country divided on itself and the struggle its people went through to survive.

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Fatherless and Abandoned, Vietnamese-Americans Search for Their Families

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2016-12-26 21:17Z by Steven

Fatherless and Abandoned, Vietnamese-Americans Search for Their Families

Voice of America
Learning English
2016-12-21

Hai Do
VOANews.com

Moki, Tan and Jannies were babies at the close of the American war in Vietnam in the 1970s. Their mothers were Vietnamese. Their fathers were American soldiers. In one way or another, they were all abandoned.

Now, the search for their birth families has brought them together. Here are their stories…

Read the entire article here.

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‘The Sympathizer,’ by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2016-11-03 01:33Z by Steven

‘The Sympathizer,’ by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Book Review
The New York Times
2015-04-02

Philip Caputo

The more powerful a country is, the more disposed its people will be to see it as the lead actor in the sometimes farcical, often tragic pageant of history. So it is that we, citizens of a superpower, have viewed the Vietnam War as a solely American drama in which the febrile land of tigers and elephants was mere backdrop and the Vietnamese mere extras.

That outlook is reflected in the literature — and Vietnam was a very literary war, producing an immense library of fiction and nonfiction. Among all those volumes, you’ll find only a handful (Robert Olen Butler’sA Good Scent From a Strange Mountain” comes to mind) with Vietnamese characters speaking in their own voices.

Hollywood has been still more Americentric. In films like “Apocalypse Now” and “Platoon,” the Vietnamese (often other Asians portraying Vietnamese) are never more than walk-ons whose principal roles seem to be to die or wail in the ashes of incinerated villages.

Which brings me to Viet Thanh Nguyen’s remarkable debut novel, “The Sympathizer.” ­Nguyen, born in Vietnam but raised in the United States, brings a distinct perspective to the war and its aftermath. His book fills a void in the literature, giving voice to the previously voiceless while it compels the rest of us to look at the events of 40 years ago in a new light…

…Duality is literally in the protagonist’s blood, for he is a half-caste, the illegitimate son of a teenage Vietnamese mother (whom he loves) and a French Catholic priest (whom he hates). Widening the split in his nature, he was educated in the United States, where he learned to speak English without an accent and developed another love-hate relationship, this one with the country that he feels has coined too many “super” terms (supermarkets, ­superhighways, the Super Bowl, and so on) “from the federal bank of its ­narcissism.”…

Read the entire review here.

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The Sympathizer

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Novels on 2016-11-02 18:10Z by Steven

The Sympathizer

Grove Press
April 2015
384 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0802123459
Paperback ISBN: 978-0802124944

Viet Thanh Nguyen

  • Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • Winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
  • Winner of the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
  • Winner of the 2016 Edgar Award for Best First Novel
  • Winner of the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
  • Winner of the 2015-2016 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (Adult Fiction)
  • Winner of the 2016 California Book Award for First Fiction

Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times Book ReviewWall Street JournalWashington Post, Seattle Times, Daily BeastKansas City StarLibrary JournalKirkus ReviewsPublishers WeeklyBooklist, GuardianNational PostMPR News, Amazon, Slate, FlavorwireEntropy, Quartz, and Globe and Mail

A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. In dialogue with but diametrically opposed to the narratives of the Vietnam War that have preceded it, this novel offers an important and unfamiliar new perspective on the war: that of a conflicted communist sympathizer.

It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. Viet Thanh Nguyen’s astonishing novel takes us inside the mind of this double agent, a man whose lofty ideals necessitate his betrayal of the people closest to him. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.

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Raising mixed race kids

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Oceania on 2016-05-01 00:13Z by Steven

Raising mixed race kids

Special Broadcasting Service Corporation
Melbourne, Australia
2016-04-27

Ian Rose

The prospect of a family holiday has Ian Rose reflecting on the pleasures of bringing up mixed-race children, and the responsibility to keep them in touch with both cultures.

Let’s get this out there straight away. I am a pom. An unreconstructed, unapologetic, dyed-in-the-wool Englishman. I take tea in the morning, consider any code of football using a non-round ball to be knuckle-headed frippery, and I will automatically apologise if you stand on my foot.

Eight years and counting down-under has not made the slightest dent in my pomminess.

I was brought here by the love of an endlessly patient Vietnamese-Australian woman, a love that has borne hybrid fruit in the form of two children, now aged an exhausting five and six. They’re Aussie. But they’re English, too. And Vietnamese.

So this year, to connect them with that side of their heritage, we’ve decided to take a family holiday to Vietnam.

“Hey, kids,” I announce at the dinner table, partly to distract the boy from his greens.

“Guess where we’re going on holiday? To Vietnam! Yaaaaay!”

My daughter’s face falls into a gurn of displeasure.

“Awww,” she laments, “why can’t we go to England?”…

Read the entire article here.

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Call for papers: “Mixed Race” in Asia

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2015-07-31 20:00Z by Steven

Call for papers: “Mixed Race” in Asia

2015-07-10

This edited volume seeks to focus attention on the neglected topic of “mixed race” in the Asian region. “Mixed race” identities have been the subject of growing scholarly interest over the past two decades. In multicultural societies, increasing numbers of people of mixed ancestry are identifying themselves outside of traditional racial categories, challenging systems of racial classification and sociological understandings of “race”.

There is a growing body of work emerging in the North American and British contexts. However, understandings and experiences of “mixed race” across different national contexts have not been explored in significant depth. Increasing research is being undertaken in the Australian/Pacific region, but research on “mixed race” in Asia has lagged behind. The proposed volume expands the field of research to include the Asian region. It explores these dilemmas through a series of case studies from around Asia, a region unique in its diversity of cultures, ethnicities, languages and histories.

In many countries in Asia, racial, ethnic and cultural mixing has a long and fascinating history, and narratives around “mixed race” have developed in vastly different ways. From established identities such as Anglo-Indians in India, to Eurasians in Singapore and Peranakan identity in Southeast Asia, to newer ones like Hafus in Japan, individuals of mixed heritage have diverse experiences across the region. These experiences have been shaped by a range of political contexts and levels of acceptance. This volume seeks to draw out these experiences, as well as the social and structural factors affecting mixedness both historically and today.

Book Overview

The proposed book will be edited by Associate Professor Farida Fozdar (University of Western Australia) and Dr Zarine Rocha (National University of Singapore).

It will include an introduction written by the editors surveying the current condition of the field of scholarship in the region, putting this in an international context. This will be followed by up to 15 chapters of original research by a selection of senior, mid and early career researchers across a range of disciplines. We particularly welcome contributions addressing “mixed race” in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Tibet.

Please send your abstracts (150-200 words) and bio (50-100 words) to: Dr Zarine L. Rocha at z.l.rocha@ajss.sg.

Deadline: 31 July 2015

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Legacies of war

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-18 18:09Z by Steven

Legacies of war

The Washington Post
2015-04-17

Annie Gowen, Bureau chief — New Delhi

Linda Davidson, Photography

Forty years after the fall of Saigon, soldiers’ children are still left behind

Vo Huu Nhan was in his vegetable boat in the floating markets of the Mekong Delta when his phone rang. The caller from the United States had stunning news — a DNA database had linked him with a Vietnam vet believed to be his father.

Nhan, 46, had known his father was an American soldier named Bob, but little else.

“I was crying,” Nhan recalled recently. “I had lost my father for 40 years, and now I finally had gotten together with him.”

But the journey toward their reconciliation has not been easy. News of the DNA match set in motion a chain of events involving two families 8,700 miles apart that is still unfolding and has been complicated by the illness of the veteran, Robert Thedford Jr., a retired deputy sheriff in Texas.

When the last American military personnel fled Saigon on April 29 and 30, 1975, they left behind a country scarred by war, a people uncertain about their future and thousands of their own children. These children — some half-black, some half-white — came from liaisons with bar girls, “hooch” maids, laundry workers and the laborers who filled sandbags that protected American bases.

They are approaching middle age with stories as complicated as the two countries that gave them life. Growing up with the face of the enemy, they were spat on, ridiculed, beaten. They were abandoned, given away to relatives or sold as cheap labor. The families that kept them often had to hide them or shear off their telltale blond or curly locks. Some were sent to reeducation or work camps, or ended up homeless and living on the streets.

They were called “bui doi,” which means “the dust of life.”

Forty years later, hundreds remain in Vietnam, too poor or without proof to qualify for the program created by the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1987 that resettles the children of American soldiers in the United States.

Now, an Amerasian group has launched a last-chance effort to reunite fathers and children with a new DNA database on a family heritage Web site. Those left behind have scant information about their GI dads — papers and photographs were burned as the communist regime took hold, and memories faded. So DNA matches are their only hope…

Read the entire photo-essay here.

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