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Written by longsivietle

March 14, 2008 at 7:01 pm

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The Colonial Diasporas I

ONLINE CLASSROOM

3.1 The Colonial Diasporas and their Displacing Effects on the Traditional Vietnamese Society (Part I)

• Austroasiatic Colonial Diasporas (3000-1000 B.C.)
• Ou Yueh (Au Viet) Colonial Diaspora (257-207 B.C.)
• Online Reading and Questions

What is the essence of the Vietnamese cultural history?

In National Geographic Traveler: Vietnam (2006) by James Sullivan, the motif used for the non-experts to understand Vietnamese history and culture is that of “the smaller dragon.” For more than a thousand years:

China controlled Vietnam as a vassal state, setting the stage for a cultural reorientation that goes right down to the marrow of what it means to be Vietnamese…[to] have absorbed the politics, religion, sociology, and arts of China to refine their own…There are, of course, cultural differences. But after more than 2,000 years of shared history, the similarities, especially to the traveler, remain obvious.[1]

Such perspective is not indicative of the current scholarship on Vietnamese history and culture. However, Sinologists, Indologists, pre-historians, and geographers writing before the mid-1960s did see Vietnam as “the smaller dragon.” These scholars regarded Vietnamese society, along with other Southeast Asian societies, in prehistoric time as having no roots and stuck fast in the stone-age. Such societies, according to French scholar Georges Coedes, “seem to have been lacking in creative genius and showed little aptitude for making progress without stimulus from outside.”[2]

Vietnam was fortunate, however, according to this view. Because it was a meeting ground of cultural influences from China, northern Vietnam became a receiver or a loan culture of a unidirectional diffusion and migration from an advanced agricultural economy, technology and mercantile activities of China.[3] From such contact, Vietnam entered history and established a centralized state which began to flourish in the early Christian era, whereas the “tribes” of Southeast Asian prehistory did not know how to rule.[4]

From 111 B.C. to 939 Vietnam was annexed to China, but “far from having worn down that invincibility, seems instead to have strengthened it.” It is this spirit of resistance through cohesion and formal structure that has been “the key answer to her historic problems.”[5] Yet, these same observers believed that Vietnamese invincibility has been the result of Chinese influence through a spirit that “combines amazing powers of assimilation.” Illustrative is Henri Maspero’s conclusion on early Vietnamese history:

[If Vietnamese] was able for centuries to resist Chinese aggression…it is indebted to Ma Yuan for this advantage [who defeated the Trung Sisters’ Rebellion in 43 A.D.]..for it was the Chinese conquerer who, in destroying the old political institutions of Tonkin [northern Vietnam], cast this country for good into the stream of Chinese civilization, thereby giving it that strong Chinese reinforcement which allowed it to play the primary role in the history of eastern Indochina since the tenth century.[6]

Thus, areas of northern Vietnam were considered “Sincized” or little China; while areas of southern Vietnam were considered as “Indianized” or little India. At best, historians writing before the mid-1960s like John Cady and Joseph Buttinger held that Southeast Asian civilizations were imported but evolved as individual adaptations. In some cases, the modifications illustrate local genius of the more advanced culture of China and/or India and that is precisely what makes them Indochinese and why the territory may properly be called Indochina.[7]

On the one hand, migration through colonial diasporas have in many ways transformed Vietnam cultural history both in prehistoric and historic times. (For a theoretical discussion about the two types of diasporas in Vietnamese history – that of colonial diaspora and victim diaspora – see Conceptualizing Displacement). On the other hand, the effects of colonial diasporas – the imposition of foreign culture – will depend on the types of aggrandizement that colonists engaged in expanding their control, and of which will be interrelated with the colonized society’s physical size and the durability of its indigenous institutions prior to the external linkages between the colonizers and the colonized. (For a theoretical discussion of the above, see Types of Colonial Rules).

According to recent works by archaeologists, linguists, and geneticists, the colonial diasporas that had direct transformative effects on the traditional Vietnamese society is that of the Austroasiatic agricultural colonists, starting about 3000 to 1000 B.C. The migration of Austroasiatic “agricultural colonists” transformed the semi-/shifting agricultural societies of Australo-Melanesian, cumulating into two periods of Neolithic/Bronze and Iron Ages in northern Vietnam. The cultural significance of this is the solid evidence of a rich and vibrant Vietnamese civilization before Chinese arrival, as well as a proto-Vietnamese language along with cultural traditions that survived, though later they took on external influences through intimate contact with foreign colonial powers.

By the time “the first major imposition of northern influence” arrived, that of Thuc Phan and his Ou Yueh (Au Viet) military personnel,[8] the indigenous Lac society was well established whose physical size must have been considerable and whose language, cultural traditions, and class structures were effectively durable and stable. That is, while Thuc Phan’s army had displaced the Lac society, his reign did not mark any large scale movement of people in sufficient magnitude to account for the origin of a people,[9] or had left any mark on the Vietnamese language.[10]

In fact, the earliest spirit of an indigenous invincibility to resist foreign rule was the Lac lords. Their ability to ‘localize’ and ‘resist’ the colonial imposition of Thuc Phan in 257 B.C. and until the arrival of Ma Yuan in 43 A.D., illustrates more accurately the essence of Vietnamese culture: “displacement but never replacement.” While the earliest name of the Vietnamese people (that of Lac) had been replaced by Viet, the Vietnamese language and particular cultural traditions (such as the belief that the Vietnamese people originated from Lac Long Quan and Au Co) owe its heritage to the ancient Lac society.

The following is a brief outline of the colonial diasporas in and their displacing effects on Vietnamese history: that of Austroasiatic colonial diasporas and Ou Yueh (Au Viet) colonial diaspora; the next online classroom will discuss the Chinese colonial diaporas, French diaspora, and the Japanese diaspora.

Austroasiatic Colonial Diasporas (3000-1000 B.C.)

Native speakers of Vietnamese today can claim descent from “the foundation movements of the major agriculturalist language families of Southeast Asia,” specifically that of Austroasiatic. [11] That is, the Vietnamese language, a Mon-Khmer language of the Austroasiastic family, at least by one reputable opinion, is believed to “derive from the earliest agricultural colonization of mainland Southeast Asia, a process possibly commencing out of southern China about 3000 B.C.”[12] Another reputable opinion is that “it is also possible that Austroasiatic languages were widely dispersed on the mainland of Southeast Asia before the Neolithic Period (also referred to as “the primitive agricultural stage”) and that rice farming was taken up by some of these groups in appropriate habitats from earlier rice cultivators in the north, who may have belonged to the Hmong-Mien language family.”[13]

Notwithstanding, from 11000 B.C. to 3000 B.C., the area of northern Vietnam was settled by societies of Australo-Melanesian hunters and gatherers (also termed the Hoabinhians) and later, by those who practiced simple plant cultivation (also termed the Basconians). Archaeological evidence from these sites suggests that these societies before 3000 B.C. made pottery, grew crops and kept animals. Bone materials from a wide range of mammal species were found, including pig, deer, dog, elephant, rhinoceros and cattle. Perhaps with the exception of pigs and dogs, none of these species appear to have been domesticated.[14] When heavy core tools appeared starting around 8000 B.C., it clearly demonstrated the Australo-Melanesian’s innovation rather than inertia, as the transition from hunting to a greater dependence on plant food began in this region.[15]

There is little doubt, however, that starting about 3000 B.C., the semi-agricultural societies in northern Vietnam were confronted by a major agriculturalist language family of Austroasiatic who were also known for their advancement in rice cultivation,[16] while Australo-Melanesian societies in central/southern Vietnam were confronted by agriculturalist/seafaring language family of Austronesian. The arrival of this agriculturalist language group “displaced” the Austro-Melanesian societies, as is evident by a complete shift to agriculture at least in northern (lowland) Vietnam.

In regard to the purpose and scope of the Austroasiatic migrants’ aggrandizement, evidence supports the theory that demographic conditions in southern China (possibly due to increasingly large and sedentary populations which arise from advancement in agricultural productivity) facilitated their migration.[17] Perhaps because the Australo-Melanesian societies lacked hierarchal or centralized social structures due to the ‘slash and burn’ of their shifting agriculture, they were not able to resist the arrival of the Austroasiatic migrants. If we presume that there were earlier waves of Austroasiatic migrants, then these may have served as linkages that facilitated the spread of Austroasiatic “agricultural colonists into a world peopled by fairly sparse groups of hunters and gatherers.”[18]

This migration process possibly commences out of southern China where, in prehistoric times, the Austroasiatic language family – along with other language groups such the Hmong-Mien, Tai, and Asutonesian – were the early ancestors of this territory before the arrival of Sinitic language family, such as the Sino-Tibetan.[19] The migration of these agriculturalist language families, especially the Austroasiatic and Austonesian, basically carried the proto-languages that gradually and eventually became the major languages of Southeast Asia through the mainland and the islands.[20] Thus, archaeologists and linguists have described southern China in prehistory and early history as geographically and culturally Southeast Asian, although eventually these “southern cultures” underwent “Sinicization.”[21]

From 3000-1000, the area of northern Vietnam experienced the passage of new cultures – that of the more settled agricultural societies with advanced agricultural techniques and of proto-Austroasiatic language. If we presume that the concept of migrations in ancient times “involved a relatively small group of ruling class people, whose mastery of political and military affairs was felt throughout the linguistic and cultural scene,” then we may speculate that there was a longer, slower process of intermarriage and adaptation between Austroasiatic migrants and the Australo-Melanesians (some may have retreated to highlands of northern Vietnam), rather than a total displacement and a wholesale overrunning of the latter. Recent studies support this view in which genetic data in Southeast Asia does not point clearly to the total replacement of the Australo-Melanesians, and that the proto-Austroasiatic and Austronesian languages were doubtlessly localized, by semi-agricultural peoples;[22] moreover, the region’s shared cultural symbols such as betel chewing has been established well before 3000 B.C.[23]

Nevertheless, the migration of Austroasiatic “agricultural colonists” cumulated into two periods of Neolithic/Bronze (as late as 1500, known as the Phung Nguyen culture) and Iron Ages (starting as late as 500 B.C., known as the Dong Son culture)[24] in northern Vietnam. In the former, there is solid evidence for cultivation of rice, along with a broader range of cultural material, such as stone arrowheads and knives, baked clay spindle whorls and bow pellets, and pottery with incised and comb-stamped decoration.[25] Pottery in this period has been considered to be directly ancestral to the pottery of the archaeological Dong-Son society of the first millennium B.C,[26] which gives further support of a cultural continuity throughout the prehistoric occupation of the Red River valley.[27]

The Dong Son culture may have played a large role in the dissemination of bronze-working technology.[28] While is likely that there was constant interaction between southern China region and northern Vietnam (as well as stimulus from the former to the latter) after about 300 B.C., the classical Dong Son drums (also termed Heger I drums) that exemplified the cultural period were likely to have been manufactured in northern Vietnam.[29] The “roots” of the Dong Son culture, whose indigenous development of the bronze style is little beyond doubt,[30] may well extend back to at least 1000 B.C., antedating any significant northern influence. In regard to the social and historical evidence for the Dong-Son period, evidence suggests the existence of a stratified society, perhaps under the rule of a single center, as attested by the textual inference of Van Lang (Kingdom), Hung (field/king/lords), and Lac [field/king/lords] in Chinese historical records,[31] which may have commenced as early as the seventh century B.C.[32]

The cultural significance of Neolithic/Bronze and Iron Ages in northern Vietnam is that the solid consensus that there was a rich and vibrant Vietnamese civilization before Chinese arrival, as well as a proto-Vietnamese language along with cultural traditions that survived, though later they took on external influences through intimate contact with foreign colonial powers both in classical and modern times. The migration of the Austroasiatic “agricultural colonists” could be considered a classic case of cultural diffusion of as well as a direct stimulus to the Australo-Melanesian semi-/shifting agricultural societies in which such diffusion gradually developed into indigenous Vietnamese civilization.

From Chinese historical records (existing only in quotations in later Chinese works between the third and fifth centuries A.D.):

In Kau-tsi [Chiao Chih, northern Vietnam]…when there were neither commanderies nor prefectures [that is prior to Chinese rule], the land was in lak [lac] fields. In these fields the [level of the] water used to rise and fall in accordancewith the [rise and fall of the] tides. The folk who brought these fields into cultivation were called Lak [Lac]. Subsequently, a Lak [Lac] king was instituted and Lak [Lac] lords appointed to govern commanderies and prefectures, [as well as] prefectural officials entitled to bronze zeals and green ribbons [which were symbols of investiture used by Ch’in and Han dynasties].[33]

Another quotation which appeared later in Chinese sources – though somewhat at variance to the above – described northern Vietnam before Chinese rule as:

Its soil is black and rich…so that these fields are called jiung [hung] fields, and the people [who cultivate them] jiung [hung] folk. There is a chief similarly styled the Jiung [Hung] King, whose aides are also called Jiung [Hung] lords. The territory is apportioned among jiung [hung] officials.[34]

These two different traditions have been conjectured. For example, Henri Maspero has claimed that Hung was an error for Lac and concluded that there never were Hung kings.[35] Others, however, have found occurrences of Hung as a family name and that it is well attested in southwest China that it derives from a Mon-Khmer title of chieftainship.[36] If we were to accept the first tradition, then even a conservation conjecture would be that the “lac field were…the creations of an indigenous folk and consequently shared their ethnic attribution” whose chieftains commanded some form of social power.[37]

Notwithstanding, the word Lac is the earliest recorded name for the Vietnamese people and we can conjecture that Lac existed before 257 B.C. and with the arrival of Thuc Phan (King An Duong), who may have some association with the Ou Yueh/Viet lords, was able to survive by forming the political union of Au Lac (Au is simply the Vietnamese pronunciation of Ou). While the word Lac disappeared when the Trung sisters and more than five thousand of their supporters were beheaded in their revolt against Han rule in 43 A.D., it was the factor that united the legendary Hung kings and the early “northern” influences and domination of Thuc Phan, Chao T’o, and early Han governors.

Meanwhile in central Vietnam, the semi-agricultural peoples and earlier Austroasiatic migrants were confronted by the migration of the Austronesian agricultural/seafaring colonists. Thus, central Vietnam starting by 2000 B.C. was being populated by the Austronesian language family. In particular, the Austronesian Chamic languages probably displaced earlier Austroasiatic languages and have been displaced in turn by Vietnamese expansion down the coast after the release of the latter from Chinese domination in the tenth century A.D. (Bellwood, 1979, 112-113). Though it should not be taken for granted, the amount of connections, contacts, and loosely knit multiethnic confederations among the various cultures located in northern Vietnam, northeastern coastal and central Vietnam. In fact, this would explain why Vietnamese language, a Mon-Khmer language of the Austroasiastic family, has clearly recognizable loans from Austronesian and later developed into a tonal language (likely borrowed from the Tai language group who spread into the region at a later date). Such contact is given visual form in the in the art of the Dong Son bronze drums, where sea birds and amphibians surround boats bearing warriors, revealing a ruling class perspective heavily influenced by Astronesian culture.

Ou Yueh (Au Viet) Colonial Diaspora (258-207 B.C.)

According to the traditional Chinese historiography, the “birth” of Vietnam originated from the refugee population of Yueh, was an ethnical branch of the Chinese race, located along the coast where the Yangtze River enters the sea. In 333 B.C., the state of Yueh was conquered by Ch’u, which was founded by a noble house closely linked with the Chou court (1027-256 B.C.) and was supposedly dispatched from central Yangtze to “colonize” the South.[38] Consequently, the Yueh ruling class migrated southward, to an area which included the lower valley of the Hong River in northern Vietnam, and established small kingdoms and principalities that Chinese historians referred to as the “Hundred Yueh.”

The above Chinese expansion, as noted by John Whitmore, set off disturbances throughout the south in which “one consequence appears to have been the Shu/Thuc [Thuc is Vietnamese for Shu] invasion of the Red River Delta in the third century B.C.”[39] Thuc Phan is the first figure in Vietnamese history documented by historical sources, although much of what we know about his origin and his reign as King An Duong has survived in legendary forms.[40] According to Keith Taylor, Thuc Phan and his family were pushed southward by Chinese expansion, which “surely forced upon them some association with the Ou Yueh lords,” who were located on the frontier of northwestern Vietnam.

The linkage between the Ou Yueh and the Lac society in northern Vietnam was one of military invasion. It is thought that the growing number of dispossessed Ou Lords caused by Chinese expansion created a context in which there was a call to recoup their fortunes by invading their southern neighbor.[41] This call was led by Thuc Phan. According to reliable sources, Thuc Phan invaded northern Vietnam with his army of thirty thousand, where the timing of the military invasion was probably opportunistic; that is, when Lac society was weak.

The arrival of Thuc Phan in the Hong River plain became “the first major imposition of northern influence in historic times”[42] and was “the opening wedge for ‘Yueh’ influence in Hong River Plain.”[43]

In regard to the purpose and scope of Ou Yueh’s aggrandizement, we can speculate that it is dynastic in nature – that is, it probably reflected the personality and was conducted in the name of Thuc Phan. Yet, most of what we know about Thuc Phan is mostly from legendary tales. For example, from the legend of the golden turtle, a golden turtle assisted Thuc Phan in subduing the local spirits so that Thuc Phan could finish his citadel at Co Loa. Before departing, the turtle gave Thuc Phan one of his claws to be used as the trigger of the king’s crossbow, assuring that he could destroy any enemy. By some accounts, this turtle claw symbolizes the military nature of Thuc Phan’s conquest and reign, suggesting his rule was based on force or the threat of force.[44]

However, unlike the Austroasiatic colonial diasporas, the Ou Yueh’s aggrandizement was not a classic case of cultural diffusion and appeared in general not to have direct and stimulus effects on Lac society. That is, the arrival of Ou Yueh lords and military personnel did not mark any large scale of sufficient magnitude to account for the origin of a people.[45] In addition, there is no evidence the Thuc Phan’s arrival left any mark on the Vietnamese language or caused any demographic change.[46] However, Thuc Phan did built a great citadel at Co Loa which was his capital and may contributed to the development of the canal-irrigated rice fields that were present in northern Vietnam before 111 B.C.; as well as a centralized state in which, according to a Chinese census of 2 A.D., over a million people populated northern Vietnam.[47]

Yet, the key reason why Thuc Phan’s arrival did not transform the Lac society was merely the fact that the latter was a well established civilization whose physical size must have been considerable and whose language, cultural traditions, and class structures were effectively durable and stable. This is in the sense that Thuc Phan’s reign was not able to disinherit the Lac society’s language, the Lac lords, or cultural motifs such as tattooing, betel chewing, and oral tradition.

For instance, recent research shows that the initial settlement of Co Loa started about 2000 B.C. Starting about 500 B.C.,[48] “there was a move in some lowland river locales, from village autonomy towards centralized chiefdoms, occurring approximately at the same time when the knowledge of iron-working was being established in Southeast Asia and slightly earlier than initial direct contact with Chinese and Indian civilization.[49] The evidence that more than 200 Dong Son style drums have been found throughout the Southeast Asia region suggests that the Lac society was engaging in sophisticated intraregional trade, prior to the infusion of Chinese modes of authority and trading techniques.

Notwithstanding, Thuc Phan’s ensuing conquest produced a fusion of the invading Ou (Au) Yueh lords and the resident Lac lords, thereby forming the kingdom of Au Lac.[50] Thuc Phan was apparently absorbed in the legendary traditions as King An Duong who came from the north and built a great capital but eventually fell prey to stronger forces coming from central China.[51]

But probably the lasting effect of Thuc Phan’s reign is that his arrival, that of the Ou Yueh, in northern Vietnam was utilized by the Chinese traditional historiography to demarcate the origin of the Vietnamese people, and perhaps because of the above simplicity of this, such perspective “still continued to attract attention.”[52]

Although Vietnamese are believed to have originated from the migration of the Yueh, as caused by the growing Chinese expansion in the third century A.D., it is more or less reflective of the ever present reality that the traditional Vietnamese society was displaced by Chinese colonial diasporas starting after the fall of Thuc Phan in 207 B.C.

For example, the word “Viet” is the Vietnamese pronunciation of the Chinese term Yueh, which is employed by Chinese scholars as synonyms of “barbarian.” When the Ch’in dynasty came to power in 222 B.C., it deployed a general, Chao T’o (Trieu Da in Vietnamese) to invade the southern Yueh lands and to establish a Chinese southern state, including conquering Thuc Phan and his Ou Yueh lords. By 207 B.C., Chao T’o created a capital near modern Canton, commanding the Kwantung and Kwangsi Provinces, and the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam, and proclaiming himself King of Nan Yueh (Nam Viet).

During Chinese direct conquest of northern Vietnam in 43 A.D., the word Yueh/Viet increasingly came to express the conquered people’s place within the “middle kingdom.” For the Chinese rulers, Yueh/Viet was to be temporary since these people would eventually be civilized and become Chinese. For the Vietnamese, after the beheading of more than five thousand Lac lords who were associates of the Trung Sisters’ rebellion against the Han dynasty in 41 A.D., their name Lac was no longer of account, whereas the name Yueh/Viet carried some weight. [53]

On the one hand, the word Viet connotes displacement and a permanent identity within the Chinese world view, but Viet also is rooted in a conviction not to be Chinese.[54] This conviction will later indicate that, while Vietnamese were displaced, they were never replaced. However, such displacement does require the reconstruction of cultural identity in order to first survive and later, to put back the “place” into displacement.

Although the original Lac society eventually disappeared, there are still traces of their traditions. According to Gerald Hickey, characteristics of the Lac society can still be found today among Vietnam’s highlanders, particularly those speaking Mon Khmer languages.[55]These include the practice of levirate (that is, a man must marry the widow of his childless brother in order to maintain the brother’s line); having special deities associated with agriculture; and having a “dinh” or communal house temple for the guardian sprite of the village.[56]

It has been speculated that the Mon Khmer speakers are linguistically related to the Lac people, but the former chose to retreat to the country’s highlands when the northern forces came to the country. So, if we want to examine the degree that “an indigenous core of ‘Vietnameseness’ survived unscathed through the fire of Chinese domination,” we may look to the Mon Khmer highlanders.

Online Reading and Questions

1. Nguyen Dinh Hoa, “An Outline of Vietnamese,” Vietnam Forum, Vol.11, 1988, (p.1-20).

• Is the Vietnamese language genetically related to Chinese?
• What has enabled the Vietnamese language to be “displaced but never replaced”?
• Do you think the Vietnamese language in the Vietnamese diasporic community could be maintained?

2. Nguyen Van Ky, “Rethinking the Status of Women in Folklore and Oral History,” in Gisele Bousquet and Pierre Brocheux, eds., Viet Nam Expose: French Scholarship on Twentieth-Century Vietnamese Society (Ann Harbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2005).

• What do Vietnamese legends and early history say about women status?
• What do Confucian values say about women status?
• What does the oral tradition say about women status?

——————————————————————————–

[1] John Sullivan, National Geographic Traveler: Vietnam (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2006), p.28.
[2] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia. Translated by H.M. Wright (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), p.13
[3] Such a prevailing view appeared to have disregarded postulations that Southeast Asia could have been a “maker” of history rather than a receiver or a victim. For example, in the early 1950s geographer Carl Sauer hypothesizes that the region should have been a center of plant domestication. See his Agricultural Origins and Dispersals (New York: George Grady Press, 1952).
[4] Georges Coedes, G. The Making of South East Asia, p.268; Georges Coedes, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. Translated by S.B. Cowing, ed. W.F. Vella (Honolulu: East-West Center Press, 1968), p.403.
[5] John McAlister and Paul Mus, The Vietnamese and Their Revolution (New York: Harper and Row, 1970), p.50.
[6] Keith Taylor, “An Evaluation of the Chinese Period in Vietnamese History,” The Journal of Asiatic Studies (Korea University), 23 (1980), p.139.
[7] John Cady, Southeast Asia: Its Historical Development (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), p.4; Joseph Buttinger, The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1958), p.19.
[8] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences and the Vietnamese Cultural Core,” p.25.
[9] Ibid., p.17.
[10] Ibid., p.17.
[11] Peter Bellwood, “The Origins and Dispersals of Agricultural Communities in Southeast Asia,” in Ian Glover and Peter Bellwood, ed., Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History (London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), p.22.
[12] Ian Glover and Peter Bellwood, Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History (London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), p.11.
[13] Ibid., p.11.
[14] Peter Bellwood, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), p.87.
[15] Miksic, 1995, p.49.
[16] Peter Bellwood, “The Origins and Dispersals of Agricultural Communities,” p.22.
[17] Ibid., p.23.
[18] Ibid., 24.
[19] Ibid., p.21-23.
[20] Ibid., p.22.
[21] Though some still include south China (but not Burma), as a part of mainland Southeast Asia. See Peter Bellwood’s Man’s Conquest of the Pacific.
[22] Peter Bellwood, “The Origins and Dispersals of Agricultural Communities,” p.22.
[23] Peter Bellwood, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific, p.71
[24] Charles Higham, “Mainland Southeast Asia from the Neolithic to the Iron Age,” in in Ian Glover and Peter Bellwood, ed., Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History,p.41.
[25] Peter Bellwood, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific, p.96.
[26] Ibid., p.96
[27] Charles Higham, The Archaeology of Mainland Southeast Asia: From 10,000 B.C. to the Fall of Angkor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p.193.
[28] Peter Bellwood, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific, p.129.
[29] Ibid., p.122.
[30] Bayard, 1980, 106
[31] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), Appendix B; Paul Wheatley, Nagara and Commandery (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1983), p.67-69.
[32] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, Appendix D.
[33] Paul Wheatley, Nagara and Commandery, p.67
[34] Ibid., p.69
[35] Henri Maspero also concluded that Van Lang was an error for Yeh-Lang, the name of ancient kingdom in Kuei-Chou. Thus, there never was a kingdom of Van Lang.
[36] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, Appendix B.
[37] Paul Wheatley, Nagara and Commandery, p.68.
[38] Blakeley, Barry “The Geography of Chu” in Defining Chu: Image and Reality in Ancient China, Ed. By constance A. Cook and John S. Major, Honolulu: Hawaii Press, 1999, 10
[39] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences and the Vietnamese Cultural Core,” in D.R. SarDesai, Southeast Asian History: Essential Readings (Los Angeles: Westview Press, 2006), p.25.
[40] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, p.21.
[41] Ibid., p.20.
[42] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences and the Vietnamese Cultural Core,” p.25.
[43] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, p.17.
[44] Ibid., p.21.
[45] Ibid., p.17.
[46] Ibid., p.17.
[47] Peter Bellwood, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific, p.125.
[48] Charles Higham, “Mainland Southeast Asia,” p.46.
[49] Charles Higham, The Archaeology of Mainland Southeast Asia, p.30
[50] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, p.20.
[51] Ibid., p.23.
[52] Ibid., Appendix E.
[53] Ibid., p.43.
[54] Ibid., p. xviii.
[55] Gerald Hickey, Sons of the Mountains: Ethnohistory of the Vietnamese Central Highlands to 1954 (New Haven: Yale University of Press, 1982), p.62-63.
[56] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia. Translated by H.M. Wright (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), p.218.

Written by longsivietle

March 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm

The Global Vietnamese Diaspora’s Weblog moved!

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Written by longsivietle

March 14, 2008 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Colonial Diasporas Part III

ONLINE CLASSROOM

Vietnam’s External Expansion and Colonial Diasporas (1471 -1859)

The External Expansion of Dai Viet
The Nguyen’s Colonial Diaspora
Different Versions of Being Vietnamese: A Southern, Nationalist/Anti-Communist Perspective
Further Reading
Online Reading and Questions

In Vietnamese history, a theme that transcends across time and space is the advance or the march to the south (“nam tien”).  The southern advancement, as noted by Michael Cotter, is unique in that “it transcends the different periods of Vietnamese history – pre-Chinese, Chinese, independent, colonial, and contemporary” in which each has “its own theme.”[1]

As discussed in earlier blogs, Chinese colonial diasporas had both indirect and direct effects on the southern advancement. 

For Vietnamese, they have been “victims” of Chinese colonial diasporas – being physically, psychologically, culturally, and intellectually displaced.  However, as noted by other scholars, the “Vietnamese will to dependence was too strong,” there must have been “a special Vietnamese collective identity of some sort,”[2] and the “harmony between the Vietnamese . . . and their environmental conditions has proved to be so deep that no race has been able to resist their advance.”[3]  

Simply, Vietnamese have always maintained their relationships with the collective memory and myth about their birth place and never more passionately than when displacement and disunity was imposed by foreign rule. 

However, Vietnamese collective will to resist had to be modified because of Chinese military power in which resistance had to include strategic form of borrowing and localizing ideas of foreign powers in order to make and strengthen local cultural statements about its “Vietnamese cultural core.” 

Cultural borrowing came from both north and south.  And until late in the 14th century, Buddhism had acted as a common ground between Vietnam and southern states of the Cham and Khmer, during times of both peace and war; for instance, Vietnamese prince who married Cham princess and the Vietnamese Buddhist monk who practiced Indian asceticism.[4]

Vietnamese, on the one hand, were successful in localizing external influences in which what were borrowed were considered essential and integral to the culture at that particular time.  But such situation sometimes was inevitably imperfect and had led to tension and stress within the society on the other.[5] 

This was the case, when after repelling the Ming invasion (1407-1427), the Le emperors began to adapt the Ming Chinese model and began to transform ideologically, bureaucratically, and militarily.  

This transformation enabled the Vietnamese state (Dai Viet) under the Le dynasty (1428-1524) to stabilize its southern and western frontiers.  But in doing so, the conviction in the essential unity of their territory and people and cultural relativity began to take dual form or multiple forms (or even change character).

The External Expansion of Dai Viet

The transformation of Dai Viet was, in part, the result of its population becoming a specialist in wet-rice cultivation, which fostered “the trade, population growth, and resource concentration that promote state power and societal expansion.”[6]

Importantly, the state began to adapt the Ming Chinese model.  

For example, it took on the Chinese ideals of bringing ‘civilization’ to the ‘uncivilized,’ which were applied to its relations with Champa and the Khmers.  It also adapted Chinese meritocratic civil service examinations as the method of recruiting educated talent to service the government.[7] Moreover, Dai Viet had acquired gunpowder technology from China, although Vietnamese also had contributed to Chinese gunpowder technology by locally producing better techniques such as the wooden wad and possibly a new ignition, which was then exported to China.[8]  Arming itself with new gunpowder technology, Dai Viet’s large and well-organized military force was able to achieve its military ends more easily than before.[9]

Indeed, under the Le dynasty, the Vietnamese state began to transcend its displacement and, according to one opinion, gradually developed into “a bigger hegemonist,” conceiving themselves as superior to all other peoples in Southeast Asia.[10]

But probably more accurate is that the transformation of Dai Viet changed the balance of power in mainland Southeast Asia.  Yet, that balance was tenuous and was hampered by the eventual rise of two separate entities with two different representations of “what was a good Vietnamese.”

Notwithstanding, as a result of the above transformation, Dai Viet, on the one hand, were able for the first time, since independence, to stabilize its southern and western frontiers.  But Dai Viet also took advantage of its new capabilities to end its conflicts with Champa over areas (that of Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien) where the two mingled since the fifth century. 

Between 1361 and 1390, Champa, under Che Bong Nga’s rule, conducted an interrupted series of victories against Vietnam, including the sacking of Vietnam’s capital of Thang Long several times and were able to retrieve Champa’s old northern provinces that it lost earlier in 1301 through a marriage alliance that did not endure.  But after Che Bong Nga’s assassination in 1390, Champa had to hand back the provinces to Vietnam, yet these areas were still contested until the fifteenth century. However, in 1471, the Dai Viet’s military force appeared to have overwhelmed the Chams. One thousand Dai Viet warships and 70,000 troops captured Champa’s capital of Vijaya.  According to Vietnamese source, more than 30,000 Chams were captured and over 40,000 were killed.  In part, the fall of Champa in 1471 was due to the fact that it did not have access to firearms.[11] Thus, the year 1471 marked the rise of Dai Viet.

Vietnamese had by then conquered the northern part of Cham country, as far as the southern border of today’s Binh Dinh province.  However, Cham kings continued to rule from this region, although less autonomous then earlier Cham kings.  In addition, however, there were southern Champ polities, including a fourth Cham region (Kauthara) located near present day Nha Trang, which had been a part of Cham country since the beginning of Cham history. 

On Vietnam’s western borders, Tai peoples were actively crossing Vietnam’s western borders, causing a series of conflicts between the two.  But by the late 1470s, Dai Viet was able to claim Tai hill territories, bringing the Tai ethnic groups in modern Vietnam.[12] Taking advantage of its military technology, Dai Viet also pursued aggressive actions against Thai and Laos principalities.  Its armies marched as far as the Irawaddy River in modern Burma.[13] As a result, by the early 1480s, kingdoms of northwestern mainland Southeast Asia, such as the Laotian kingdom of Lan Ch’ang and Thai principality of Ai Lao sent tributes to the Vietnamese capital.

In sum, the purpose and scope of Dai Viet’s external expansion was initially to stabilize its southern and western frontiers, of which had been militarily contested throughout the centuries without a clear winner, at least until 1471.  Its external expansion was dynastic in nature, which was clearly reflected by the reign of Le Thang Tong (1460-1497) who sought to stabilize his state by securing its borders to prevent any repeat of foreign invasions, such as the Ming invasion of 1407-1427.   The degree of success in stabilizing its borders, as well as going beyond its borders, was, in large part, due to the unilateral-monopolistic timing, as put forward by Frank Darling.[14] That is, Dai Viet’s external expansion occurred because of a “power vacuum” in which Dai Viet with the new gunpowder technology and under a more bureaucratic state were able to exert power in the region, limited by the available resources and the stability of the Le court.

Vietnam, however, did not develop a permanent colonial phase or colonial diaspora until the beginning of the sixteenth century.  Even though Vietnam was active in acquisitioning Cham lands, it occurred at long intervals.  In occupying Cham lands, the Le emperors would appoint frontier military governors with the rank of viceroy (kinh-luoc), but would also retained Cham officials in the administration in some regions.  The purpose and scope of Vietnamese military and penal colonies were to consolidate their gains, to provide support for expeditions, and to relieve population pressures.[15] 

During this period, Vietnamese rulers did not pay much attention to the specific matter of expansion into Champa, until the arrival of the Nguyen lords who eventually sought a southern autonomous state, separate from the northern state under the Trinh lords. 

The Nguyen’s Colonial Diaspora

Vietnamese southern expansion or colonial diaspora under the Nguyen family can be described as a frontier movement, originating because of political and military unrest and conflicts at home; and expanding through military conquests, treaties, and “most difficult to document, colonization by transfrontiersmen.”[16]

In 1524, when the Le emperors were usurped by the Mac family, the Trinh family and Nguyen family both professed their loyalty to and attempted to restore the Le emperors.  However, after the restoration of Le in 1592, the Trinh family gradually acquired all the important posts at the Le court so that the Le emperors were reduced to being “nominal” rulers.[17] Meanwhile, the Nguyen family saw the Trinh as usurpers and decided to officially break with the Trinh in 1600 and return to Thuan Hoa (modern Hue), where years earlier they were emplaced by the Trinh to establish control over the southernmost frontiers. Between 1627 and 1672, the Nguyen lords were able to defend Trinh’s expeditions, as well as defending Cham’s reacquisition of its former territories.  By 1672, Trinh lords, whose militarily failures to defeat the Nguyen left them weakened, agreed to a division of the two states at the boundary of the Linh River.  This resulted in a relatively stable coexistence of “two Dai Viets” for a little more than one hundred years. 

The Nguyen, despite having a smaller population with a smaller number of trained officials, accordingly adjusted their organizational structure and localized themselves to their new geographical terrains and frontier influences, including redeveloping trading centers, absorbing local populations, and interacting with foreign merchants. 

For example, in the former Cham territories, one of the key characteristics of the Nguyen administration was the use of Chams and of lower-class Vietnamese.  It also redeveloped the commercially oriented society center in Hoi An, which had been pioneered by the local Cham population who still constituted a key component in the labor and basic patterns of the region’s trading center after the Vietnamese takeover.[18] Unlike the traditional northern economy, the Nguyen’s economy had a “fundamental basis in foreign trade.”[19]  This attracted Vietnamese immigrants, as well as Chinese refugees who fled from the Manchu dynasty, arriving at various times in present day areas of Hue after 1636, further transforming the Hoi An region “into its now recognizably Vietnamese form.”[20]  Moreover, from its contacts with foreign merchants, the Nguyen state was able to arm itself with modern weapons provided by Portuguese merchants, which assisted them to defend the Trinh expeditions as well as to continue the expansion of its control farther south.

As noted by recent works in Vietnamese historiography, in the Nguyen, we see a new version of being Vietnamese.  Although these works tend to describe the Nguyen as breaking or escaping from the past and from the ancestors in order to create ways of being Vietnamese,[21] it is probably more accurate to say that the Nguyen was not rigid in conforming with the traditional culture in the north, which led to a more open, multiethnic society with emphasis on foreign trade. 

This was true for both the central areas and the Mekong Delta areas.  In the latter, Vietnamese had moved into southern plains by the early 1620s, due the political and military vacuum left by the declining Khmer kings.  By this time, the Khmer court based in Phnom Penh was faction ridden and was subservient to Siamese (Tai) influence.  This allowed the Nguyen to exert its influence in the Khmer court, including the marriage of a Vietnamese princess to a Khmer king in 1620.  Three years later, the Khmer king granted permission for Vietnamese immigrants and traders to move into the areas, culminating in 1689 the establishment of a viceroyalty over the provinces around Saigon (Cotter254).[22]

Compared to the central areas, the Nguyen saw the Mekong Delta as more extensive and fertile for growing rice.  It also used this area to utilize captured Trinh soldiers and lower class immigrants from the north to settle and develop this area. Chinese immigrants also had important role in redeveloping this region’s trading center.  As a result, this region was ethnically pluralistic.  From one perspective, these individuals and groups found southern Vietnam as a land of promise, where they could make a fresh start.[23] For instance, captured soldiers were expected to clear the land in which they were given farm implements and food to eat.  So in several years “they could produce enough for their own needs,” and after twenty years after “their children can be soldiers of the country.”[24]

To be sure, however, the Nguyen’s colonial did displace the local populations of the Chams and the Khmers, whose “displacement but not replacement” is still today not assured.

A common perception is that the institutional weakness of Cham society, “a weakly institutionalized state system that depended upon personal alliance networks to integrate a fragmented population,” had sealed its fate.[25] Yet, the Chams were never easily conquered. In fact, it may be the same decentralized system that allowed the Chams for centuries to contest and stir rebellion against the Vietnamese.  Despite the Nguyen’s presence in the Cham territories since the 1550s, it was until 1611 that Cham territory of Kauthara (modern Nha Trang) disintegrated and not until 1771 that Panduranga-Champa (modern Phan Rang) fell.   However, over the centuries Cham society could not withstand the Vietnamese advancement, sometimes in “massive convulsions or in fits and starts.”[26]

It is thought that the majority of Chams were killed, driven off, or assimilated by the Vietnamese.[27]  Chams still exist today as an ethnic minority in Vietnam – though its number is relatively small (about 40,000) in comparison to the 30,000 Cham families in the eleventh century.  To some degree, because the Nguyen’s purpose and scope of its colonial diaspora were of political and economic domination “with less concern about Cham social and religious life,” Chams were able to retain some of their culture, including their language, religious beliefs, matrilineal kinship patterns, and the practice of non-intensive rice growing.[28] And often overlooked or discredited is the contribution of Chams in the Hoi An region as international trade center.  It is very likely that “Vietnamese immigrants encountered the well-established patterns of behavior of the peoples who preceded them and very likely continued to live alongside them.”[29] For instance, Vietnamese had been shaped by the Cham maritime logic in rebuilding Hoi An, learned to grow rice in terraced land, adopted local Cham deities such as Po Nagar, took up a form of Siva worship, lived in Malayic-style stilt houses, traveled in Cham-style boats, tilled with Cham plows, buried their dead in Cham-style graves, and practiced piracy and barter in slaves.[30] 

Similarly, since the early 1620s Khmers were gradually displaced and were pushed out of their villages into Cambodia or into marginal lands near the sea;[31] and by 1780, the Vietnamese controlled most of the southern territories that comprise present Vietnam.  During the 18th century, military colonies were used to expand in this region, which settled disputes between Khmers and encroaching Vietnamese, although in the favor of Vietnamese settlers.[32]  In the 1978 border war with Cambodia, the new socialist government of Vietnam used the Khmers as an advance column in their invasion into Cambodia.  Like the Chams, the Khmers were also “discredited” of their role in developing the commercial areas near Saigon.  Their contribution to the Vietnamese vocabulary and phrases is often overlooked.  This is also true regarding their religious practices, which the Vietnamese have adopted, including elements of Theravada Buddhism.  Other cultural borrowing from the Khmers includes agricultural implements and foods, medicines, and different areas of arts.[33]

Also to be sure, there were a number of schisms that developed over the course of the Nguyen’s colonial diaspora – those between the various socioeconomic groups and the separate geopolitical entities.  This culminated in the Tay Son rebellion (1772-1801), uprising against both the Trinh and Nguyen forces and unifying the country for the first time in 1788.  Although the events of the Tay Son defy easy classification, peasant grievances were central and, yet, the “momentum that had carried the [Tay Son] brothers to a series of military triumphs disappeared as their respective regimes could not resolve the troubles facing them.”[34] 

The equally multiethnic alliance that Nguyen Anh created in the Mekong Delta, who also got support from French mercenaries, defeated the Tay Son brothers and reunified the country in 1802.  According to George Dutton, the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945) did little to resolve the conflicts that had been stirred up by the Tay Son wars.  These conflicts “even accelerated” under the new regime that was able to tax more effectively than their predecessors, which peasants complained loudly about these further exactions and hundreds of peasant and other uprisings challenged the new emperor in the early decades of his reign.[35]

Perhaps, because of the fact that the reunified Vietnam was sill a highly divided territory, emperor Gia Long (formerly Nguyen Anh) sought to address this situation through “expedient of effectively ruling the country as three different regions” in which his dynasty controlled more directly at the center and his governor generals governed the northern and southern parts of Vietnam.[36] But by the reign of Ming Mang (1820-1840), the governor general and his associates (including Christians, Chinese settlers, and ex-convicts) in the south were seen “as a force that threatened to undermine the unity of Vietnam.”[37] He, thus, initiated a program to “cultivate” and “assimilate” southerners, particularly the latter disregard of the central government and royal authority (Choi, 194); but Ming Mang respected private land ownership and offered incentives for southern landlords to become part of the government hierarchy.[38]  While the southern Vietnamese state was much more “Southeast Asian” than its northern rival, Vietnamese and Confucian manners did gain ground but “only very slowly over the variety of cultures which had existed in the southern regions for centuries.”[39] 

Such process, on the one hand, sparked widespread insurrections by ethnic groups, but in the longer run led “southerners to stand with the Hue’s authority.”[40]  For example, in 1833 a revolt of southerners, popularly called the Le Van Khoi revolt, broke out, declaring independent rule for southern Vietnam and lasting for two years before being crushed.  But later in 1859, when the French landed in this region, the strong loyalist sentiments toward the Hue court fueled the southerner’s anti-French movement.

Importantly, the above ruptures which, nonetheless, coincided with unification/reunification shaped the political and social contours of a Vietnam that ultimately and unavoidably confronted the French colonial power in the mid-19th century.  This confrontation again ruptured but also reunified Vietnam.  But again a reunified Vietnam also sparked another wave of the country’s historical roots in refugee-exile circumstances beginning with:

  • the Nguyen family under Nguyen Kim fled to Laos after the Mac’s usurpation of the Le dynasty in 1524;
  • the Mac family fled to northern China when the Le dynasty was restored in 1592;
  • the Nguyen family under Nguyen Hoang left northern Vietnam to the Cham territories after breaking official ties with the Trinh in 1600;
  • the Nguyen family under Nguyen Anh fled to Siam (Thailand) in 1775 after its capital fell to the Tay Son brothers;
  • the Vietnam Nationalist Party (or the Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang) fled to China when the Viet Minh in 1946 began to purge non-communist groups in order to create a communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam. 
  • and the leaders and members of the former Republic of South Vietnam evacuated and escaped to western countries after the fall of Saigon to communist rule in 1975.
     

Different Versions of Being Vietnamese: A Southern, Nationalist/Anti-Communist Perspective

As noted by Keith Taylor, there are different alternatives in reading the Nguyen’s southward expansion.

That is, for the non-experts, it is unclear whether the division between the Trinh lords and Nguyen lords was either the result of hatred and envy of Trinh towards the Nguyen’s military merit, or that, because the Trinh was appointed by the Le court to preside over a regency in the north, the Nguyen decided to return south and created its own autonomy.[41]

Utilizing two Vietnamese dynastic annals, one from the perspective of the Le court written in the second half of the 17th century and the other from the perspective of the Nguyen court written in the early 19th century, Keith Taylor provides a binary reading of Vietnam’s southward expansion: that of the northern and southern points of view.

Wherein the regional differences center on Nguyen Hoang, who was the second son of Nguyen Kim, the leader of a movement to restore the Le emperors in the 1520s.  When Nguyen Kim was poisoned in 1545 by the Mac associates, the movement was then led by Nguyen Hoang’s brother-in-law, Trinh Kiem. Eventually, there was a split between Nguyen Hoang and Trinh Kiem.

From the northern perspective, Nguyen Hoang was more “clever than loyal, a capable man who can no longer be governed by appeals to his ancestors, a man grown arrogant by his familiarity with wealth and the power it confers.”[42]  From the southern perspective, Nguyen Hoang was “a hero who against all odds survives the bloody affairs of a cramped, impoverished polity and leads his people into a land of peace and plenty, a man who understands foreign merchants.”[43]

Keith Taylor’s regional binary, however, is a deliberate choice, imaginatively employed so that in Nguyen Hoang “we see the beginning of a southern version of being Vietnamese, and because Vietnamese today are no longer able to ignore the differences between north and south.”[44]

A possible reading of Nguyen Hoang’s going south is that it is a metaphor for all the decisions that going south would make possible.  According to Keith Taylor:

[S]imply, because, in rejecting the traditional definition of a “good Vietnamese,” options for being another kind of “good Vietnamese” could be explored…[in which]…Talent and ability began to count more than birth and position. This was, in effect, an escape from ancestors, an escape from the past. For Nguyen Hoang, the result was a greater alliance on his own abilities, a shifting of the burden of moral choice from the past to the present.[45]

Essentially, the fact that the Nguyen Hoang “opted to turn his back on the world in which he was raised” and “risked being pronounced a rebel meant that he was not restricted by the northern ways (Taylor, 42, 64).[46] This allows him to freely explore options “without a coercive model of how things out to be.”[47]

Interestingly, behind Keith Taylor’s Nguyen Hoang has been his effort, along with his former students, to demarcate what is imagined as local or regional is “political neutral since it has both potential for both oppression and resistance” (Taylor).[48]  This revisionist agenda avoids “the authority of what is thought to have happened in the past” by a master, national, or regional narrative that justifies the violence of dominance and resistance.  Thus, it attempts to deconstruct Vietnamese history, so as to feature histories that go beyond nation and region.    Moverover, this revision offers an alternative of representing (and strongly rejecting?) the Vietnamese history and culture as continuity and change, since the latter tends to constrain “independent histories.”  Instead, revisionists, like Keith Taylor and his former students, argue for an interpretive framework that leaves “more open ends, widows, and adjoining corridors than previous works.”[49]

But the above may assume prematurely that a national or regional narrative necessarily needs to be rescued by academics who believe that their imaginative or revisionist schema is politically more responsible and one without (or has acknowledged) any shortcomings or contradictions.   

In fact, while national or regional narrative is necessarily political, it is not necessarily coercive or intolerant. 

This is may be the case of the Vietnamese southern, anti-communist historiography.  Unlike the Vietnamese Marxist-nationalist historians, the Vietnamese nationalist/anti-anticommunist historians writting during the Vietnam War had a lot to say about Nguyen Hoang; the former, in general, has ignored Nguyen Hoang because he did not confirm or exemplify the theme of national unity or social cohesion necessary for a building a modern socialist state. 

For the Vietnamese nationalist/anti-communist historians, Nguyen Hoang was loyal and who left his post in the southern frontiers to aid the Trinh against the Mac, despite his mistrust of the Trinh.  From this perspective, the origin of the Nguyen state was due to the:

[W]ars and intrigues under the tyrannical rule of the Trinh; an abortive plot by the Le King and one of the Trinh Tung’s sons against the Trinh ended in Trinh Tung’s killing his disloyal son as well as the Le king. Power than passed to Trinh Tung’s eldest son, who ruled on behalf of the figurehead Le King who was subsequently installed.[50]

This perspective further views that the military conflicts between the Trinh and Nguyen to have weakened the former.

During this time, the Trinh reorganized their administration to promote honesty and efficiency, requiring all officials to take periodic examinations and weeding out incompetents. Unhappily, this well-intentioned program ended when money was needed to quell revolts, and the practice of selling administrative posts was instituted…The cruel reign of Trinh Giang (1729-1740)…resulted in the outbreak of more riots and revolts, thus preventing the continuation of earlier progressive policies.[51]

By contrast, the nationalist/anti-communist perspective saw the Nguyen state as more capable in terms of administration and economics, due to its foreign trade, agricultural colonies, and the settlement’s vast rich lands, which provided a solution to the Nguyen’s problems of population pressure.  In addition, the Nguyen did not accommodate itself to the rigidity of the past. The Nguyen “readily absorbed, too, the influx of refugees who left the insecurity and tyranny of the Trinh…as well Chinese immigrants” who contributed to the well-established commercial trading centers.[52]

However, the Vietnamese nationalist/anti-communist historians did not hesitate to critique the fact that the enormous expansion of territory by the Nguyen was not matched by the economy, which remained static and village oriented.  As a result, the lot of the peasant grew increasingly worse in which rebellions from the peasants erupted with increasing frequency.  

These historians also appeared to be neutral in terms of mass politics, describing the Tay Son brothers as those:

[Who] came up from the masses, and profited by the occasion of internal disorders to raise the colors of liberation. They routed both the lords of the Nguyen and Trinh by 1777…One of the brothers, Nguyen Hue, became the Emperor under the title of Quang Trung, and thanks to him, the national unity as finally restored for a brief time. Unfortunately, he died in 1972 without being able to assure the continuation of his dynasty.[53]

But in regard to French colonial rule, nationalist/anti-communist historians agrued that the Minh Mang was hostile to Western influence because “it had undermined the traditional Confucian order,” but that Minh Mang was no fanatic.[54] 

Nguyen emperors issued stronger and stronger edicts against the incursion of foreigners, and especially against Christian missionaries; but all of these injunctions went unheeded. Any actions taken to enforce the edicts served only to incite the West.[55]

Yet, the nationalist/anti-communist view also claims a Vietnamese identity that is open to the influences of the Western.

The Vietnamese mind is not disposed to accommodate itself to the rigidity of a monolithic dogma. The subtlety and tolerance which this people manifests at all times could only be compatible with diversity. That no one should be surprised that Confucian pragmatism, Buddhist self-denial and Christian charity liver together in harmony and recruit so many adherents. Mostly, however, the existence of this mosaic of religions is a living tribute to the tolerance and generous spirit of the Vietnamese people.[56]

In sum, the Vietnamese southern, nationalist/anti-communist historiography in many ways avoids an essentialized version of a unified Vietnam, a village Vietnam, a Confucian Vietnam, a revolutionary Viet Nam, and the idea that of Vietnam as composed of two rice baskets held together by a pole.  This historiography to a considerable degree appears to allow for restoration of the voices that have been ignored or marginalized.  However, at the same time, it does not deny that Vietnam is “an ancient culture with its own rivers and mountains, ways and customs” in which the internal divisions of Vietnam have been the results of politics and not because Nguyen Hoang turned his back against or rejected the place of his birth.  

So the option to shape the continunity in the longer trajectory of Vietnamese history leaves “more open ends, widows, and adjoining corridors,” and one that can entail “taking responsibility for acting at the surface of our own time and place.”

Further Reading

Online Reading and Questions

Keith Taylor, “Nguyen Hoang and the Beginning of Vietnam’s Southward Expansion,” in Anthony Reid, ed., Trade, Power, and Belief (New York: Cornell University Press, 1993).

  • What are the key differences between the northern “annal” and the “southern annal” regarding the appraisal of Nguyen Hoang? Is there any similarities?
  • Why in Nguyen Hoang do we see a beginning of a southern version of being Vietnamese?
  • Do you think there is such thing as a Western version of being Vietnamese as a result of the current Vietnamese diaspora?

Choi Byung Wook, “The Costs of Minh Mang’s Assimilation Policy,” in his Southern Vietnam under the Reign of Minh Mang (1820-1841): Central Policies and Local Response (New York: Cornell University, 2004).

  • Why did Minh Mang change the country name from “Viet Nam” to “Dai Nam” in 1838?
  • What are some of the methods used to assimilate the Khmer minority and other ethnic minority communities?
  • What are the results of Minh Mang’s assimilation policy?

——————————————————————————–

[1] Michael Cotter, “Towards a Social History of the Vietnamese Southward Movement,” Journal of Southeast Asian History, 9:1 (1968), p.251.
[2] Alexander Woodside, “Vietnamese History: Confucianism, Colonialism, and Independence,” Vietnam Forum, Vol.11, 1988, p.27.
[3] John McAlister and Paul Mus, The Vietnamese and Their Revolution (New York: Harper and Row, 1970), p.47.
[4] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences and the Vietnamese Cultural Core,” in D.R. SarDesai, Southeast Asian History: Essential Readings (Los Angeles: Westview Press, 2006), p.29.
[5] Ibid, p. 25.
[6] Richard O’Connor, “Agricultural Change and Ethnic Succession in Southeast Asian States: A Case for Regional Anthropology,” Journal of Asian Studies, 54:4, p.986
[7] John Whitmore, “Chung-hsing and Chang-t’ung in Texts of and on Sixteenth Century Viet Nam,” in Keith Taylor and John Whitmore, ed., Essays into Vietnamese Pasts (New York: Cornell University, 1995) p.135.
[8] Sun Laichen, “Chinese Gunpowder Technology and Dai Viet, ca.1390-1497,” in Nhung TuyetTran and Anthony Reid, ed., Viet Nam: Borderless Histories (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), p.109.
[9] Ibid, 110.
[10] Lucian Pye, Asian Power and Politics: The Cultural Dimensions of Authority (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), p.59.   
[11] Sun Laichen, “Chinese Gunpowder Technology, p.101.
[12] John Whitmore, “Colliding Peoples: Tai/Viet Interactions in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries,” Association of Asian Studies, San Diego, California, 2000.
[13] Sun Laichen, “Chinese Gunpowder Technology, p.109.
[14] Frank Darling, The Westernization of Asia: A Comparative Political Analysis (Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1979), p.63-71.
[15] Michael Cotter, “Towards a Social History,’ p.252.
[16] Ibid, p.256.
[17] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia. Translated by H.M. Wright (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), p.209.
[18] Charles Wheeler, “One Region, Two Histories: Cham Precedents in the History of the Hoi An Region,” in Nhung TuyetTran and Anthony Reid, ed., Viet Nam: Borderless Histories (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), p.168-170, 173.
[19] Keith Taylor, “Nguyen Hoang and the Beginning of Vietnam’s Southward Expansion,” in Anthony Reid, ed., Trade, Power, and Belief (New York: Cornell University Press, 1993), p.49.
[20] Charles Wheeler, “One Region, Two Histories,” p.169.
[21] Keith Taylor, “Nguyen Hoang,” p.64.
[22] Michael Cotter, “Towards a Social History,” p.254.
[23] Ibid., p.254.
[24] Tana Li and Andy Reid, Southern Vietnam Under the Nguyen (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1993, p.128.
[25] Kenneth Hall, “Economic History of Early Southeast Asia,” in Nicholas Tarling, ed., Cambridge History of Southeast Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p.178-193.
[26] Charles Wheeler, “One Region, Two Histories,” p.185.
[27] Michael Cotter, “Towards a Social History,” p.253.
[28] Ibid., p.253-254.
[29] Charles Wheeler, “One Region, Two Histories,” p.186.
[30] Ibid., p.175, 186.
[31] Michael Cotter, “Towards a Social History,” p.254.
[32] Ibid., p.254.
[33] Ibid., p.254-256.
[34] George Dutton, The Tay Son Uprising: Society and Rebellion in Eighteenth-Century Vietnam (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2006), p.230.
[35] Ibid., p.231.
[36] Ibid., p.233.
[37] Choi Byung Wook, Southern Vietnam under the Reign of Minh Mang (1820-1841): Central Policies and Local Response (New York: Cornell University, 2004),p.193.
[38] Ibid., p.195.
[39] Tana Li and Andy Reid, Southern Vietnam, p.4.
[40] Choi Byung Wook, Southern Vietnam, p.195.
[41] Keith Taylor, “Nguyen Hoang,” p.55-58.
[42] Ibid., p.45.
[43] Ibid., p.45
[44] Ibid., p.45.
[45] Ibid., p.64.
[46] Ibid., p.64
[47] Ibid., 42.
[48] Keith Taylor, “Surface Orientations in Vietnam: Beyond Histories of Nation and Region,” Journal of Asian Studies, 57:4, (Nov. 1998), p.976.
[49] Nhung TuyetTran and Anthony Reid, Viet Nam: Borderless Histories (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), p.17.
[50] Vietnamese Realities: The Land, the People, A Glimpse of Vietnam’s History, Written and Spoken Language, Literature, Arts. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Vietnam, 1967, p.69-70
[51] Ibid., p.71.
[52] Ibid., p.72.
[53] Ibid., p.73.
[54] Ibid.,p.75.
[55] Ibid., p.75.
[56] Ibid., p.172.

Written by longsivietle

February 22, 2008 at 9:52 pm

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The Colonial Diasporas Part II

ONLINE CLASSROOM

4.1. The Colonial Diasporas and their Effects on Vietnamese Displacement (Part II)

Chinese Colonial Diasporas (207 B.C.-939 A.D.)

The Nan Yueh Period (207-111 B.C.)
Early Han Period (111 B.C. – 43 A.D.)
Displacement Effects under Chinese Direct Rule (After 43 A.D.)
A Prolonged Re-independence Process (44-939 A.D.)
Retaining the Cultural Core and Making Local Cultural Statements
Further Reading
Online Reading and Questions

The Nan Yueh Period (207-111 B.C.)

In 222 B.C., Ch’in Shih Huang Ti triumphed over his rivals and brought an end to the anarchic period of the Warring States, forming the first fully centralized empire in Chinese history. He then established the Ch’in dynasty. Even before his triumph, Shih Huang Ti in 221 B.C. had already planned an expedition and three years later, ordered half a million soldiers to invade the southern Yueh lands. Ch’in’s aggrandizement appeared to be economic; its linkages of the Yueh lands (at that time still far more being completely sinicized) were through the then-existing commercial exchanges between northern China and the southern Yueh realm.[1] The earliest description of this campaign revealed that “Ch’in Shih Huang Ti was interested in rhinoceros horn, the elephant tusks, the kingfisher plumes, and the pearls of Yueh; he therefore sent Commissioner T’u Sui at the head of five hundred thousand men divided into five armies.”[2]

By 207 B.C., a Ch’in general Chao T’o (Trieu Da in Vietnamese and who was among the above campaign), was able to establish a Chinese southern state (from 207-111 B.C.) that commanded both the Kwantung and Kwangsi Provinces, and the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam. Chao T’o proclaimed himself King of Nan Yueh in 207 B.C., established his capital near modern Canton, and later assumed the title of emperor in 183 B.C. It is not certain whether the Au Lac kingdom was incorporated in 207 B.C. into Nan Yueh, whether Nan Yueh gained the vassalage of Au Lac in 180 B.C. by means of “rich gifts,” or if sometime after the conquest and before 180 B.C., Au Lac gained its independence (of which there is no evidence).[3]

Notwithstanding, for the first time, northern Vietnam was part of a kingdom encompassing all of southern China, which was stamped with the personality of its founder, Chao T’o.[4] That is, with the eminent collapse of Ch’in state as a new Han dynasty competed for power after the death of Ch’in Shih Huang Ti in 209 B.C., Chao T’o had the means to establish an independent kingdom because of the remoteness of the southern Yueh lands. To do so, he sealed “the mountain passes leading north and eliminated all the officials not personally loyal to him.”[5]

Thus, the purpose and scope of Chao T’o’s dynastic aggrandizement of Nan Yueh was to create an independent dynasty ‘divorced’ from the newly established Han dynasty, but also one that needed a new basis for political and economic power. This may explain why Chao T’o sought to build popularity and loyalty among the non-Chinese population by adapting the manner of the local peoples and resisting Han aggression.[6] However, Chao T’o was interested in developing commercial centers in order to support his newly independent kingdom in which he had also introduced the Chinese language. But overall, the effects of Chao T’o’s dynastic aggrandizement on Nan Yueh appeared not to have directly forced Chinese influence on the local cultures, and, at some level, Chinese immigrants were required under his reign to adopt the local customs and to intermarry with the local peoples.[7]

Chao T’o divided the conquered lands of Au Lac into two prefectures: Giao Chi (located in Hong River plain) and Cuu Chan (located in the smaller plain of the Ma River to the south). According to Keith Taylor, the traditional Lac order in which a royal Lac court and lords continued to exist at Co Loa remained intact, although as a vassal, two legates were assigned to oversee this commercial center.[8] But, at the same time, some degree of mixture of foreign elements, such as a greater reinforcement of Yueh element and Chinese influence probably took place at Co Loa.[9]

Worthy of note is that later Vietnamese remembered Chao T’o as one who defended their land against Chinese aggression. In 544, when Ly Bi of a mixed Sino-Vietnamese class rose against a tyrant Chinese governor, he proclaimed himself emperor of Nan Yueh, evoking the precedent of Chao T’o who had earlier defied the Han dynasty.[10] After 939 B.C., when Ngo Quyen held off southern Han attacks (which proved to be a milestone to the path of national independence), he took on a title of a Vietnamese king, rather taking on Chinese-style political titles, and “once more gave the country its former name of [Nan Yueh].”[11] In 966, when Bo Linh proclaimed himself emperor to assert his political equality between Vietnam and China, he also assigned his son Lien the title “King of Nan Yueh.”[12]

In Vietnamese the word Nan Yueh is Nam Viet. In 1802, Emperor Gia Long of the Nguyen dynasty wanted to rename the newly unified country as “Nam Viet,” although it is not certain whether Gia Long sought “Nam Viet” as a way to indicate the newly gained southern territories of the former Cham and Khmer states or to indicate equality with China. Nevertheless, in 1803 he sought the Chinese emperor’s approval of the name. The Chinese emperor rejected this name because it would conjecture territorial ambitions since Chao T’o’s Nam Viet had included two Chinese provinces.[13] The Chinese emperor resolved this issue by simply reversing the order of the two words into: Viet Nam.

Early Han Period (111 B.C. – 43 A.D.)

In 112 B.C., when Nan Yueh dynasty broke its ties of vassalage to China, the Han Emperor Wu Ti proceeded to occupy the country. A year later, Nan Yueh was incorporated into the empire and formed the province of Giao. In northern Vietnam, an additional province of Nhat Nam (stretching from Hoanh Son to Hai Van Pass) was added to the two previous commanderies of Giao Chi and Cuu Chan.

Northern Vietnam under the Han overlords, according to Keith Taylor, “left no mark on the legendary traditions of the Vietnamese people; unlike the fall of Au Lac, the fall of Nan Yueh did not loom in the collective memory of the Vietnamese.”[14] Similarly, Georges Coedes noted that Han overlords did not bring provinces of Nan Yueh “under the imperial administration, and did not alter the institutions they found there,” since purpose and scope of Han’s conquest was to secure and control “the opening between the ports Kwantung and of northern Viet-Nam” and other existing commercial centers.[15] However, there was a recorded accident in which a certain “General of the Left Old Au Lac” received a title from Han as a reward for his having killed the “King of Tay Vu [a name derived from the region where Co Loa was built].”[16] But it appeared that after submitting to the Han overlords, the Lac lords ruled in their accustomed manner, except that “the principle of prefectural and district administration was established as an official policy.”[17]

It was not until the beginning of the first century A.D. that the Chinese governs began changing “the people through [marriage] rites and justice [prefectural and district administration],” sinicizing, or spreading the Chinese language, ideographs, ethics, and customs more thoroughly than before through new schools and enforced administration decrees.[18] Chinese influence became stronger with the arrival of Chinese political refugees (and their scholar-official families), who refused to recognize the Wang Mang who usurped the Han throne (9-25 A.D.).

Because of a growing awareness of Vietnam’s agricultural potential, Chinese policy in northern Vietnam during the early decades of the first century focused on developing an agrarian economy as a stable government source of tax revenue.[19] It is conjectured that in order for Chinese administrative policy to be effective, the Vietnamese family unit had to be “remade,” because the Chinese concept of political authority rested on a tightly controlled patriarchal family system.[20] Thus, there was an administrative agenda in establishing a patriarchal society in northern Vietnam based on monogamous marriage that would respond to Han-style government.[21]

And because the Lac lords were responsible to implement these new Han policies, cultural supports for the traditional authority of the Lac lords began to crumble. Inevitably, “as discrepancies between the old principle of aristocratic hierarchy and the new principle of prefectural and district administration became increasingly evident, the Lac lords were faced with the choice of becoming subordinate officials in Han government or of taking their case to the battlefield.”[22]

This is the backdrop of the Trung sisters’ rebellion in 40 A.D. From Chinese accounts, Trung Trac was a daughter of a Lac lord of Me Linh (northwest of Hanoi) and was married to a Lac lord of Chu Dien (near the Hong River plain); Trung Trac had a constant companion in her younger sister, Trung Nhi. In reacting to the reportedly greedy and inept prefect of Giao Chih (Su Ting), Trung Trac “of a brave and fearless disposition” stirred her husband to action and mobilized the Lac lords against the Chinese.[23] In 40 A.D., the Chinese settlements were overrun and the provinces of Cuu Chan and Nhat Nam joined the sisters’ uprising. Trung Trac had “established a royal court at Me Linh and was recognized as queen by sixty-five strongholds [fiefs],” and “it is recorded that for two years she ‘adjusted the taxes’ of Giao Chi and Cuu Chan.”[24]

By 42 A.D. an expedition led by Ma Yuan, one of the best Chinese generals at the time, arrived in the delta area with 20,000 men to quell the sisters’ rebellion, though when he initially approached the sisters’ armies, the size of the latter compelled him to retreat into the hills. But by May 43 A.D. Ma Yuan won a bloody but decisive victory at Lang Bac in which several thousand Vietnamese were captured and beheaded.[25]

The cultural significance of this short-lived uprising is that it illustrates the indigenous ability to resist Chinese aggression. Trung sisters in later centuries were incorporated to the pantheon of national spirits able to give supernatural spirits aid in time of need;[26] according to a noted fifteenth century literary scholar and military hero, Nguyen Trai, the Trung sisters renamed the recover state as Hung Lac.[27] While Ma Yuan’s suppression of revolt cast the country into the stream of Chinese civilization, Trung sisters’ resistance “effectively ‘froze’ the Dong Son heritage in a moment of heroic courage” and eventually and spiritually called “the Vietnamese back to ancient inheritance.”[28]

Interestingly, later Vietnamese Confucius scholars favored the idea that the Trung sisters’ revolt was provoked by, and rightfully acted to revenge, the death of Trung Trac’s husband, Thi Sach, at the hands of Han officials. But the Chinese sources revealed that Thi Sach followed his wife’s leadership, and that there is no evidence of this death;[29] so that Trung Trac’s reign as a queen may have taken place while her husband was still alive. Also, a large percentage of the more than fifty recorded names and biographies that followed Trung Trac’s uprising were women. The matriarchal element is further tested that Trung Trac’s mother’s tomb and spirit temple survived, although nothing remains of her father. Moreover, according to reliable source, the two siblings’ surname was Hung, which conjectured the possibility that the Trung sisters were associated with the mythical Hung dynasty and that such dynasty could have allowed a female ruler?[30]

Displacement Effects under Chinese Direct Rule (After 43 A.D.)

Notwithstanding, the defeat of the Trung sisters saw the end of the pre-Chinese popular leaders and the traditional ruling class (that of the Lac), as Ma Yuan followed up his victory by organizing a permanent administration and direct rule in the delta.[31] In effect, after the defeat of the Trung sisters, the “placement” of Vietnamese identity within the “middle kingdom” consisted of physical, psychological, cultural, and intellectual displacements.

For example, in terms of physical displacement, historical sources implied that after Ma Yuan’s victory, three to five thousand were captured and headed in Cuu Chan and several hundred families were deported to China.[32] In northern Vietnam, Han soldiers were settled to protect and implemented Han administrative and its agenda, including the idea that the conquered were now “to bind” to a formal promise or oath to obey the “old regulations.”[33] In addition, Han soldiers took the rice fields away from the Lac lords and were the direct means for building Han-style patterns of land ownership and revenue collection.[34]

In regard to psychological displacement (where the behavioral impulse is redirected from a more threatening activity or person(s) to a less threatening one), Vietnamese shifted their identity to take account of their new position. That is, for the Vietnamese, their name Lac was no longer of account, whereas the Yueh/Viet identity was forced but also carried some social status with it. From the Chinese view, Yueh/Viet was to express the conquered people’s place within the “middle kingdom” but it was to be temporary since these people would eventually be civilized and become Chinese.

Cultural displacement had also occurred. The Trung sisters’ revolt demonstrated the greater role of women in the traditional Vietnamese societies, the individualistic tendencies and its bilateral character. As noted earlier, according to Chinese sources, Trung Trac’s husband, Thi Sach, followed his wife’s leadership, and that Trung Trac’s reign may have taken place while her husband was still alive.[35]  Thus, for Han officials, the Vietnamese family had to conform to the Chinese family system so as to make the former more hospitable to Chinese concept of government. This included decrees encouraging stable, monogamous marriage, discouraging the practice of levirate (that is, a man must marry the widow of his childless brother in order to maintain the brother’s line), and reforming women to be more trustworthy and less promiscuous.[36] Thus, such modifications restrained the matriarchal elements and trends of the Vietnamese traditional society.

Finally, intellectual displacement is also evident. According to the conventional view of Chinese scholars and French sinologists, when the Chinese conquered the Hong River plain, “they met ‘barbarians’ whose beliefs and social organization had something in common with those of their own Chinese…early ancestors…and this goes some way toward explaining why they were so rapidly and so easily able to impose their own civilization…[for the Vietnamese] they were simply a later [Chinese], more advanced stage of a common cultural basis.”[37] And once direct Chinese colonial rule had been enforced, Chinese influence “left indelible traces on [Vietnamese] language, literature, and institutions, and indeed the whole of its intellectual life.”[38]

While the conventional view acknowledged that Chinese occupation was confronted with “members of the native population who were attached to their traditional institutions and hostile to foreign rule,”[39] it does not directly acknowledge that Vietnamese were victims and were displaced by Chinese colonial diasporas. Rather, it focuses on the perception that because the traditional Vietnamese society in prehistoric times lacked the inventiveness, its history is linked to the arrival of Chinese civilization, but one that has been “receptive rather than creative when brought into contact.”[40] The defining theme in this view is that “the Vietnamese borrowed so many cultural traits from China that even when it achieved political independence, it still remained an offshoot of Chinese civilization.”[41]

However, as discussed earlier, the traditional Vietnamese society both in prehistoric and early history was by its own account rich and vibrant and demonstrated that it was not simply displaced by Chinese colonial diasporas, but also ‘localizers’ and ‘resisters’ of those diasporas.

A Prolonged Re-independence Process (44-939 A.D.)

As noted by Keith Taylor, when strong Chinese dynasties asserted their power in Vietnam, it drew the Vietnamese closer to China and cut them off from their non-Chinese neighbors.[42] This was the case from 44-544 A.D. and from 603-909 A.D. In these periods, Vietnamese had to learned to articulate their non-Chinese identity, as well as having their resistance to colonial rule (including their alliance with non-Chinese neighbors) modified, in terms of strong Chinese civilizing governors and their military power.[43] When Chinese power was weak at the center or temporarily withdrew from Vietnam, local heroes attempted to initiate and enforce a new concept of frontiers that set the Vietnamese off from China and their southern neighbors.[44] This was the case from 541-603 A.D. and from 909-980.

Therefore, the proximity and intensity of Chinese civilizing mission and military power were important determinants of Vietnam’s re-independence process. Overall, the patterns of Chinese immigration and settlement in northern Vietnam reflected Chinese commercial interests, including wanting a port on South China Sea, tax revenues from the agricultural fields and households, and precious rarities. In order to realize these commercial interests, the people of northern Vietnam had to be militarily conquered because they demographically dominated this area. And, because the traditional Vietnamese society and its institutions and infrastructure of communal thought and action proved to be deep and its defenses could not easily be forced by outsiders, they needed to be transformed and be incorporated into the Chinese civilization and empire. As noted by other scholars, the spread and implementation of Chinese civilization into the northeast of the peninsula and southeast of the south sea is the direct result of its assimilation policy put into practice of which was unlikely without military conquest and annexation of territory.

After Ma Yuan’s victory over the Trung sisters, a new ruling class emerged from the marriage between Han Chinese soldiers/immigrants and local Vietnamese families. While this Han-Viet ruling class formally accepted Han culture with few or no reservations, overtime they developed their own perspective on Chinese civilization by taking a regional point of view that owed much to the indigenous heritage. That is, as conjectured by Keith Taylor, because the Vietnamese language survived, “it is reasonable to assume that after the first or second generation, Han immigrants spoke Vietnamese” and more “were effectively ‘Vietnamized’ than the Vietnamese were sinicized.”[45] By 136 A.D., the middle and low level Han officials “may have had three grandparents of indigenous stock and only one grandfather of northern origin”; then the Han character may have been “seriously compromised by marriage.”[46]

In 231 A.D., a Chinese prefect acknowledged that there were local customs that have proven to be impervious to Chinese influence. He then pondered why the Chinese were interested in such a place:

They easily become rebellious and are difficult to pacify; district officials act dignified but are careful not to provoke them. What can be obtained from field and household taxes is meager. On the other hand, this place is famous for precious rarities from afar: pearls, incense, drugs, elephant tusks, rhinoceros horn, tortoise shell, coral, lapis lazuli, parrots, kingfishers, peacocks, rare and abundant treasures enough to satisfy all desires. So it is not necessary to depend on what is received from taxes in order to profit the Central Kingdom.[47]

In regard to Han’s actual implementation of administrative governance, it appeared, from Han historiography, that a Chinese official who “governed with benevolence and was tolerant of strange customs” was promoted, while officials who “used the law to extort bribes [too excessive]” were eventually executed.[48] In fact, when the Han government began to decline in 202 and later in periods of political crises in the Central Kingdom, it was the Han-Viet families such as Shih family and Do family, who both were loyal imperialists, who were able to maintain stability and prevent the slide toward separatism in northern Vietnam while, at the same time, did not go against indigenous sensibilities and allowed the local way of life to prosper.[49] Families like the Shih and the Do, while having roots in Vietnamese society, through education and imperial ambitions were linked to and worked effectively to enforce the Chinese imperial connection in northern Vietnam.

During the reign of the Shih family, Buddhism (which captured the imagination of the local people), Confucianism (predominately embraced by the ruling class people by virtue of their education), and Taoism (many public Confucianists were private Taoists and many Taosists found Buddhism but a short step away) all flourished in varying degrees.[50] It is of note that the Shih family allowed the Vietnamese culture to localize Buddhism; as late as the T’ang rule, Buddhist influence from the southeast India (Mahayana orthodoxy) by sea, rather than overland from northern India (Theravada orthodoxy) dominated Cham and Khmer civilizations. The popular Buddhist culture in northern Vietnam gave rise to native son resistance leader, Trieu Quang Phuc, who took on an indigenous title of king and was remembered as the protector of the Buddhist religion.[51]

The importance of families like the Shih and Do were that they were able to achieve a working consensus with the regional ruling class, specifically with the Ly family, dissuaded any effort of separatism or independence as championed by the Ly family.[52]

However, alienated families, such as the Ly, “because of an aversion to the claims of Han civilization or because of personal taste,” they eagerly embraced the local way of life.[53] The Ly had continued to pose a threat of separatism that eventually produced a sixth century Vietnamese independence leader, Ly Bi and his Ly’s predecessors. In 541 A.D., Ly Bi rose up against a corrupted Chinese governor and by 544 proclaimed himself emperor of Nan Yueh, evoking the precedent of Chao T’o who had earlier defied the Han dynasty.[54] Ly Bi emulated Chinese imperial ideals by establishing a reign title and organized an imperial court.

But it also appeared that Ly Bi used Buddhism to buttress his reign, such as publishing the name of his realm as Van Xuan (Ten Thousand Spring-times), and may have patronized the Buddhist religion.[55] According to a temple document, he also invoked the memory of a popular heroine, Lady Trieu, who was a leader of a 248 A.D. uprising by honoring her with a posthumous title.[56] Another Ly member, Ly Phat Tu, was able to reoccupy Ly Bi’s realm in 590 until 603 A.D.; his original name may have been Ly Huu Vinh but his personal name was changed to Phat Tu (“Son of Buddha”).[57] This indicated his support and patronization, which assisted a Vietnamized form of Buddhism that later played an important role in the early independence period, as exemplified by the Ly and Tran dynasties. The promise of the Ly’s was cut short by a resurgence of Chinese power. However, in the long run, the promise of the sixth century was kept.[58]

In 622 A.D., a new great dynasty emerged: that of the T’ang, who reorganized the administrative boundaries of northern Vietnam and created the general government of Giao, which in 679 became the general protectorate of An Nam (“The Pacified South”).[59] T’ang domination was firm and efficient. The noted regional ruling class “was neutralized and swallowed up by T’ang administration.[60] Unlike the great families under Han rule who controlled vast estates and maintained private armies, T’ang reconstructed them into the “equal-field” system, so as to counter the greater families and to shore up regional authority. However, in the early eighth century, Tang administration broke down and popular leadership appeared such as Mai Thuc Loan in 722 A.D. who captured the capital and proclaimed himself emperor (in alliance with Chams and Khmers). But, as a result, an army of some one hundred thousand men migrated to northern Vietnam to quell the “alien” marauders.[61] Though even then, in 791 A.D., another individual with a non-Chinese cultural outlook, Phung Hung, was able to seize control of the capital but soon died. However, his son succeeded him and ruled well for a few years until forced to surrender by a new Chinese Protector.[62]

The legacy of T’ang’s firm and relatively stable rule in northern Vietnam appeared to have a considerable degree of “sinicization” on the local culture, or that that Vietnamese culture and society were to some degree modified by nearly three centuries of T’ang rule.[63] The greatest number of Chinese loan words in literary character is dated from the T’ang period. These words, unlike the Han administrative terms, were adapted to the Vietnamese tongue;[64] in addition, during this time, the Vietnamese began to experiment with using Chinese characters to write their own language, which later Vietnamese character (Chu Nom) was eventually developed for literary purposes from the thirteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Thus, by many accounts, during the T’ang epoch, the local people experienced significant knowledge of classical learning and an ability to apply it to popular forms of expression, as well as certain legal and administrative habits which later were integrated by the Vietnamese dynastic courts.[65]

For instance, the law codes of later Vietnamese dynasties were strongly influenced by T’ang law, although the significant portions retained were chiefly about court etiquette, loyalty to the ruler, the behavior of officials, public order, and such administrative procedures as census registration and taxation. Meanwhile, the portions of T’ang law dealing with criminal justice, marriage, inheritance, and other aspects of family organization and customary usage were replaced or significantly altered by distinctive Vietnamese provisions.[66]

Notwithstanding, when T’ang fell in 931 A.D. (superseded in 907 by the Later Liang dynasty but with a royal T’ang family able to hold northern Vietnam intact for another half century), the Vietnamese national consciousness, inspired by Buddhism and reinforced by the dozen or so anti-Chinese uprisings between 39 and 939, asserted its independence. By the fall of T’ang, Canton as a port for commercial trade had been sufficiently built up by the Chinese expansion in that area, so that the necessity for controlling northern Vietnam to have access to South China became less urgent for subsequent Chinese dynasties. This also implied that the patterns of Chinese immigration and settlement were negligible, as Vietnam increasingly lay beyond the absorbing powers of Chinese society.

In 931 A.D., a new Southern Han dynasty emerged in Canton and invaded northern Vietnam. Duong Dinh Nghe and his family were members of the T’ang civilization but were willing to enter the reality of regional power politics and built an indigenous power base to resist Southern Han rather than to join forces with northern rulers. He forced the Southern Han army out of northern Vietnam and named himself military governor.

The importance of Duong Dinh Nghe was that he presided over the first wakening of “Vietnamese power” in the tenth century. This included an affirmation that: “We are not Chinese; we are Viet.” As a ruling elite, Duong Dinh Nghe’s willingness to accept this choice may explain his ability to cast himself to the Vietnamese kingship, which grew out of peasant life and village politics and whose members later became the “rustic” kings in the second half of the tenth century.[67]

Duong Dinh Nghe’s alignment with the Vietnamese village life is further conjectured by Joseph Buttinger’s statement about class politics during Chinese colonization:

The peasant, in particular, must have wanted to rid himself of a foreign rule under which he suffered greatly, profited little, and could expect nothing, relative to its relation with the local upper classes. If for centuries he did not engage in active resistance, it was mainly because he lacked the self-awareness as well as the possibility for organized action of the ruling class. Though passive resistance of the peasant had contributed more to the survival of the Vietnamese people and to national consolidation than all the upper class revolts…Not until the ninth century did these conflicting trends begin to converge. The village emerged as the source from which the national spirit drew its strength, but it was the ranks of the upper class that this spirit had come to life…The upper-class rebels ceased to see the peasant merely as an object of exploitation and began to look at him as an indispensable ally in their fight for independence. They began to speak the language of the villagers and to honor the peasant’s pre-Chinese customs. In preaching the national gospel, they transformed themselves into something more genuinely Vietnamese than they had ever been before.[68]

Although Duong Dinh Nghe was killed by one of his officers in order to steer a pro-Chinese court in 937, another of Duong Dinh Nghe’s generals, Ngo Quyen, avenged the death of his patron. This led to unavoidable conflict with the Southern Han, who sent an expedition by sea to northern Vietnam in 938. Ngo Quyen anticipated this plan and lured the Chinese boats into areas where barriers of large poles with iron points were planted in the bed of the river; the ships of the Chinese fleet were all caught on the poles. This allowed Ngo Quyen’s soldiers to attack vigorously and defend the point of entry at Bach Dang River. After this battle, Southern Han never attacked Vietnamese again.[69]

Ngo Quyen’s victory had proved to be a milestone to the path of national independence. In 939, he took on a title of a Vietnamese king, rather taking on Chinese-style political titles, and “once more gave the country its former name of [Nan Yueh]” and made the ancient city of Co Loa his capital.[70] This pays tribute to, but also further strengthens, the imagination of a Vietnamese kingdom rooted in ancient times.

Retaining the Cultural Core and Making Local Cultural Statements

Today, a more acceptable assessment of the impacts of the Chinese colonial diasporas on the Vietnamese traditional society is that: China for Vietnam was an administrative tutor but was also a colonist aggressor, a promoter in economics but also an exploiter, and a cultural mentor but also an indoctrinator.[71]

However, for the Vietnamese, at least historically, China always poses a danger, and “that is how things are.” In fact, after Vietnamese independence, China has tried several times to reincorporate Viet Nam into its empire, including in 981, 1075-1077, 1250s, 1280s, 1406-1427, and 1788. That view is embodied in a Chinese document of 1882 which saw Viet Nam as a “barrier of the Middle Empire, a small nation which serves to protect the provinces of Yunnan and Kwangsi…although situated outside the Empire, we cannot abandon it.”[72]

Thus, living in the shadow of a powerful empire, Vietnamese must necessarily become expert survival artists, including utilizing “the ideas of a large country with the warriors of a small country,” as advised by court historian Ngo Si Lien. The necessity to absorb Chinese influence is also expressed by the legend of Lac Long Quan and Au Co, which exemplifies the theme of Vietnam’s neutralizing the threat of northern legitimacy. In fact, the newly independent Vietnamese state did not journey inwardly or isolate itself from China, so that borrowing from China did not diminish. Indeed, learning and borrowing enabled the Vietnamese to issue its own paper money by 1396 A.D., and to domesticate wood-block printing techniques in the 1400s.[73] But the Vietnamese also learned and borrowed from their southern and western neighbors and later, western missionaries and colonizers. As noted by Alexander Woodside, from the eleventh to the fifteenth century, “Vietnamese elites had been influenced culturally almost as much as by the Chams as by the Chinese, including the former military strategies, music and operas, newer matriarchal trends, and cultural motifs such as the elephants.[74]

Although not entirely and not without elaborations, the borrowing of foreign ideas can be considered that of strategic calculations. That is, Vietnamese dynastic scholars did not necessarily see Sinic institutions and inventions as ‘Chinese,’ that Vietnam was merely imitating. Vietnamese scholars equated the Sinic devices and inventions as universal or a sort of technology. As such, learning and borrowing did not imply that they wanted to become Chinese or to place their institutions within the Chinese civilization and empire.[75] Rather, the Vietnamese did not want to deprive of themselves of Chinese innovations which represented the most advanced technology for nation building, including acquiring and maintaining technical, administrative, and cultural skills.

And they did not hesitate to use Sinic devices for diplomatic weaponry against the Chinese themselves.[76] For example, dynastic historian, Ly Quy Don used the study of history, which Chinese classical values, to produce an inventory of lost Vietnamese books and archives, (going back to 1026 A.D.), which had been destroyed or carried away by Chinese invaders, indicating memory of a lost, or stolen, cultural patrimony.[77] Nor did other Vietnamese scholars hesitate to use the Chinese concept of the “Book of Heaven” and deliberately alter it to enable Vietnamese “Sons of Heaven” to determine who is good and who is evil in the world.[78] “Book of Heaven” was also rewrote so that Vietnam has its own place in the sun (with its own foreign relations to the south and west), and that anyone who violates its boundaries will be cut to pieces, according to Ly Thuong Kiet’s declaration (in Chinese) in the eleventh century.[79]

The conventional view of Vietnamese borrowing after independence is that because it retained repeated contact with China, the reconquest of the country by the Ming at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and the tendency to imitate the Court of Peking at the beginning of the nineteenth century “have all contributed towards keeping Viet-nam within the Chinese cultural zone.” While Vietnamese are receptive and attracted to Chinese culture when not politically force upon them, they have always see their nation, though perhaps more intensely because of constant Chinese aggression, as “an ancient culture with its own rivers and mountains, ways and customs, different from those in the north [China],” as penned by literary scholar and military hero, Nguyen Trai. Indeed, Vietnam is not a smaller dragon in terms of origin and identity in the fact that:

China, after losing its Vietnamese protectorate during the political storms of the 10th century, tried many times to reincorporate Vietnam into its empire, and failed on every occasion. The Vietnamese will to dependence was too strong to permit it; and that will to dependence could never have existed without some intuition, reaching through all the social classes right down to the seemingly crustacean politics if the bamboo-walled villages, that there was a special Vietnamese collective identity of some sort. The Vietnamese nation is, to put it bluntly, one of the longest enduring acts of in human history.[80]

It is more illustrative that the reason why Vietnamese were displaced by Chinese colonial diasporas but were never replaced was because they strategically borrowed, elaborated, and localized foreign influences in order to negotiate and assert their cultural and intellectual rights. Such method allowed them to reclaim their re-independence, “else there would be no such thing as a Vietnamese nation today,” although they were modified and their articulation was constrained by the degree and nature of Chinese power felt in Vietnam.[81]

Vietnamese dynastic historians did take upon themselves to use the study of history “to define the notion of an absolutely distinct Vietnamese kingdom, and of real as well as mythical fron­tiers intended to ward off forever China’s wish to resuscitate any legitimate pretension to interference.”[82] Vietnamese dynastic historiography, while relying heavily on Chinese historical sources, “Vietnamized” them but also preserved their traditions (which were not accounted by the Chinese sources) in order to reflect the cultural favor of different eras during Chinese rule. Doing so, it gave their national history the legal, historical, and cultural basis of their independence.

For example, in the thirteenth century, to ward off any wish of Yuan China to recapture its former colony, historian Le Van Huu sought to demonstrate the antiquity of the Vietnamese state as well as to illustrate that the current Vietnam’s tributary rela­tionship with China was a fiction by demarcating the starting point of Vietnamese history to Chao To’s Nan Yueh.[83] As noted by Yu Insun, Le Van Huu “would have known about the other legendary Vietnamese leaders who ruled long before Chao T’o” but who would have appeared pale to Chao T’o’s defiance of China, since “early Vietnamese rulers were content with the title of king and did not pursue the rank of emperor.”[84]  Similarly, in the independence period, Le Van Huu saw Dinh Bo Linh (not Ngo Quyen in 939 A.D.) as the person who completely restored Vietnam’s legitimacy because, in 968 A.D., Dinh Bo Linh was able ousted all rivals and rose to the rank of emperor, restoring the legitimate tradition of Chao T’o.

Perhaps, the most important aspect of borrowing, as noted by John Whitmore, is that “the manner in which the Vietnamese received external influences helps us acquire a sense of the culture itself.”[85] In the prolonged process of re-dependence, a period of gradual spread of Chinese influence combined with the rise and fall of local attempts at regional and political overlordship, it seems to have produced a spiritual call for Vietnamese to go back to its ancient inheritance. However, at the same time, the “Vietnamese cultural core” has taken on Chinese influences and ideals. Generally speaking, Chinese contributions to Vietnam cover all aspects of culture, society, and government. These influences penetrated Vietnamese society, but only as ideals, although they were to some a degree realized among upper- or middle-class Vietnamese who aspired to prominent roles in government or society.[86] Yet, especially among the upper- or middle-class, cultural borrowing from the Chinese was not to erode the “Vietnamese cultural core” but was more or less deliberate in order to address the physical, psychological, cultural, and intellectual displacements caused by the constant Chinese aggression. Such cultural borrowing has allowed the Vietnamese elite to make and strengthen local cultural statements about its “cultural core.”  

In many ways, centuries of Vietnamese borrowing has made the “Vietnamese culture core” a shifting entity and “what would count within it would be that which was considered essential and integral to the culture at any give time.”[87] Although such situation is inevitably imperfect and may lead to tension and stress within society, it has created an enduring historical agency, whose indigenous language, village religion, kinship reckoning, sex roles, residence and inheritance tactics were never replaced of which today are still distinct and persistent but, at the same time, able to continuously take on (and off) external influences.

Further Reading

Online Reading and Questions

Ly Te Xuyen, Viet Dien U Linh (Departed Spirits of the Viet Realm). Translated by Brian Ostrowski, and Brian Zottoli as a Teaching Tool for Early Vietnam (Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 1999).

  • Pick one person from the sovereign or ministers category and briefly describe why that person was bestowed an honorific title.
  • Pick one spirit from the spirits from nature and briefly describe how this spirit relates to the understanding of a ruler or an event.
  • Are there Vietnamese individuals or spirits in the diasporic community that you think are instrumental to the Vietnamese Diasporic Experience?

Yu Insun, “Le Van Huu and Ngo Si Lien: A Comparison of Their Perception of Vietnamese History,” in Nhung TuyetTran and Anthony Reid, ed., Viet Nam: Borderless Histories (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006).

  • In general, what explain the differences in the commentaries on the same historical incident (i.e. Chao T’o/Trieu Da, Ngo Quyen, Le Hoan, etc) between Le Van Huu of the 13th century and Ngo Si Lien of the 15th century?
  • Although there were more differences, what was a key similarity between the two scholars’ historical perspectives?
  • Both Le Van Huu and Ngo Si Lien sought a point of origin for the Vietnamese state before Chinese colonial rule.  In the case of Vietnamese American Experience, what would be your point of origin in regard to Vietnamese American History or Vietnamese American Cultural Heritage (a date or an historical event)?

——————————————————————————–

[1] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia. Translated by H.M. Wright (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), p.39.
[2] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), p.17.
[3] Ibid., footnote 113, 114.
[4] Ibid., p.23.
[5] Ibid., p.26.
[6] Ibid., p.23-24.
[7] Joseph Buttinger, Vietnam: A Political History (New York: Praeger, 1968), p.20-23; D.G.E. Hall, A History of Southeast Asia, 4th ed. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1981), p.212.
[8] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.26.
[9] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia, p.46.
[10] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.138.
[11] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia, p.80.
[12] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.281.
[13] Alexander Woodside, Vietnam and the Chinese Model (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), p.120-121.
[14] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.30.
[15] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia, p.43.
[16] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.29-30.
[17] Ibid., p.33.
[18] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia, p.43.
[19] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.36-37.
[20] Ibid., p.36.
[21] Ibid., p.36
[22] Ibid., p.37.
[23] Ibid., p.38.
[24] Ibid., p.39
[25] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.46.
[26] Ibid., p.336.
[27] Nguyen Van Ky, “Rethinking the Status of Women in Folklore and Oral History,” in Gisele Bousquet and Pierre Brocheux, eds., Viet Nam Expose: French Scholarship on Twentieth-Century Vietnamese Society (Ann Harbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2005), p.89.
[28] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.339.
[29] Ibid., p.39.
[30] Nguyen Van Ky, “Rethinking the Status of Women,” p.89.
[31] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia, p.45.
[32] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.46-47.
[33] Ibid., p.46-47.
[34] Ibid., p.49
[35] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.39.
[36] Ibid., p.36, 75,77.
[37] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia, p.45.
[38] Ibid., p.46
[39] Ibid., p.47
[40] Ibid., 230.
[41] Ibid.,218.
[42] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.xx.
[43] Ibid., p.xx-xxi.
[44] Ibid., p.xix-xx.
[45] Ibid., p.53.
[46] Ibid., p.64.
[47] Ibid., p.78
[48] Ibid., p.59
[49] Ibid.,p.80.
[50] Ibid., p.83.
[51] Ibid., p.151-155
[52] Ibid., p.115.
[53] Ibid., p.79.
[54] Ibid, p.138.
[55] Ibid., p.140.
[56] Ibid., p.140.
[57] Ibid., 157.
[58] Ibid., 165
[59] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia, p.48.
[60] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.209.
[61] Ibid., p.216.
[62] D.G.E. Hall, History of South-East Asia, p.197-198.
[63] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.1201-121.
[64] Ibid., p.120.
[65] Ibid., p.221.
[66] Ibid., p.21.
[67] Ibid., p.264.
[68] Joseph Buttinger, The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1958), p.35-36.
[69] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.268-269.
[70] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia, p.80.
[71] King Chen, Vietnam and China, 1938-1954 (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 1969, p.12.
[72] Jean Sainteny, Ho Chi Minh and His Vietnam, (Chicago, IL: Cowles Books, 1972), p.72.
[73] Alexander Woodside, “Vietnamese History: Confucianism, Colonialism, and Independence,” Vietnam Forum, Vol.11, 1988, p.25.
[74] Alexander Woodside, Vietnam and the Chinese Model, p. 23, 25-26, 29,45.
[75] Nguyen The Anh, “Attraction and Repulsion as the Two Contrasting Aspects of the Relations Between China and Vietnam,” China and Southeast Asia: Historical Interacitons. An International Symposium. University of Hong Kong, 19-21 July 2001. See http://www.vninfos.com/selection/histoire/attraction_et_repulsion.html.
[76] O.W. Wolters, History, Culture, and Region in Southeast Asian Perspectives (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asia Studies, 1982), p.63.
[77] Alexander Woodside, “Vietnamese History,” p.30.
[78] David Marr, “Sino-Vietnamese Relations,” The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No.6, 1981, p.48.
[79] Ibid., p.48
[80] Alexander Woodside, “Vietnamese History,” p.27
[81] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.307, xix.
[82] Nguyen The Anh, “Attraction and Repulsion.”
[83] O.W. Wolters, “Historians and Emperors in Vietnam and China,” in C.D. Cowan and O.W. Wolters, eds., Perceptions of the Past in Southeast Asia (Ithaca: Cornell University of Press, 1976) p.73-74.
[84] Yu Insun, “Le Van Huu and Ngo Si Lien: A Comparison of Their Perception of Vietnamese History,” in Nhung TuyetTran and Anthony Reid, ed., Viet Nam: Borderless Histories (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), p.49.
[85] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences and the Vietnamese Cultural Core,” in D.R. SarDesai, Southeast Asian History: Essential Readings (Los Angeles: Westview Press, 2006), p.40.
[86] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.298.
[87] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences,” p.40.

Written by longsivietle

February 8, 2008 at 7:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

The Colonial Diasporas

ONLINE CLASSROOM

3.1 The Colonial Diasporas and their Displacing Effects on the Traditional Vietnamese Society (Part I)

Austroasiatic Colonial Diasporas (3000-1000 B.C.)
Ou Yueh (Au Viet) Colonial Diaspora (257-207 B.C.)
Online Reading and Questions

What is the essence of the Vietnamese cultural history? 

In National Geographic Traveler: Vietnam (2006) by James Sullivan, the motif used for the non-experts to understand Vietnamese history and culture is that of “the smaller dragon.”  For more than a thousand years:

China controlled Vietnam as a vassal state, setting the stage for a cultural reorientation that goes right down to the marrow of what it means to be Vietnamese…[to] have absorbed the politics, religion, sociology, and arts of China to refine their own…There are, of course, cultural differences. But after more than 2,000 years of shared history, the similarities, especially to the traveler, remain obvious.[1]

Such perspective is not indicative of the current scholarship on Vietnamese history and culture.  However, Sinologists, Indologists, pre-historians, and geographers writing before the mid-1960s did see Vietnam as “the smaller dragon.”  These scholars regarded Vietnamese society, along with other Southeast Asian societies, in prehistoric time as having no roots and stuck fast in the stone-age.  Such societies, according to French scholar Georges Coedes, “seem to have been lacking in creative genius and showed little aptitude for making progress without stimulus from outside.”[2]

Vietnam was fortunate, however, according to this view.  Because it was a meeting ground of cultural influences from China, northern Vietnam became a receiver or a loan culture of a unidirectional diffusion and migration from an advanced agricultural economy, technology and mercantile activities of China.[3]  From such contact, Vietnam entered history and established a centralized state which began to flourish in the early Christian era, whereas the “tribes” of Southeast Asian prehistory did not know how to rule.[4]

From 111 B.C. to 939 Vietnam was annexed to China, but “far from having worn down that invincibility, seems instead to have strengthened it.” It is this spirit of resistance through cohesion and formal structure that has been “the key answer to her historic problems.”[5]  Yet, these same observers believed that Vietnamese invincibility has been the result of Chinese influence through a spirit that “combines amazing powers of assimilation.”  Illustrative is Henri Maspero’s conclusion on early Vietnamese history:

[If Vietnamese] was able for centuries to resist Chinese aggression…it is indebted to Ma Yuan for this advantage [who defeated the Trung Sisters’ Rebellion in 43 A.D.]..for it was the Chinese conquerer who, in destroying the old political institutions of Tonkin [northern Vietnam], cast this country for good into the stream of Chinese civilization, thereby giving it that strong Chinese reinforcement which allowed it to play the primary role in the history of eastern Indochina since the tenth century.[6]

Thus, areas of northern Vietnam were considered “Sincized” or little China; while areas of southern Vietnam were considered as “Indianized” or little India.  At best, historians writing before the mid-1960s like John Cady and Joseph Buttinger held that Southeast Asian civilizations were imported but evolved as individual adaptations.  In some cases, the modifications illustrate local genius of the more advanced culture of China and/or India and that is precisely what makes them Indochinese and why the territory may properly be called Indochina.[7]

On the one hand, migration through colonial diasporas have in many ways transformed Vietnam cultural history both in prehistoric and historic times. (For a theoretical discussion about the two types of diasporas in Vietnamese history – that of colonial diaspora and victim diaspora – see Conceptualizing Displacement). On the other hand, the effects of colonial diasporas – the imposition of foreign culture – will depend on the types of aggrandizement that colonists engaged in expanding their control, and of which will be interrelated with the colonized society’s physical size and the durability of its indigenous institutions prior to the external linkages between the colonizers and the colonized. (For a theoretical discussion of the above, see Types of Colonial Rules).

According to recent works by archaeologists, linguists, and geneticists, the colonial diasporas that had direct transformative effects on the traditional Vietnamese society is that of the Austroasiatic agricultural colonists, starting about 3000 to 1000 B.C.  The migration of Austroasiatic “agricultural colonists” transformed the semi-/shifting agricultural societies of Australo-Melanesian, cumulating into two periods of Neolithic/Bronze and Iron Ages in northern Vietnam.  The cultural significance of this is the solid evidence of a rich and vibrant Vietnamese civilization before Chinese arrival, as well as a proto-Vietnamese language along with cultural traditions that survived, though later they took on external influences through intimate contact with foreign colonial powers. 

By the time “the first major imposition of northern influence” arrived, that of Thuc Phan and his Ou Yueh (Au Viet) military personnel,[8] the indigenous Lac society was well established whose physical size must have been considerable and whose language, cultural traditions, and class structures were effectively durable and stable.  That is, while Thuc Phan’s army had displaced the Lac society, his reign did not mark any large scale movement of people in sufficient magnitude to account for the origin of a people,[9] or had left any mark on the Vietnamese language.[10]

In fact, the earliest spirit of an indigenous invincibility to resist foreign rule was the Lac lords.  Their ability to ‘localize’ and ‘resist’ the colonial imposition of Thuc Phan in 257 B.C. and until the arrival of Ma Yuan in 43 A.D., illustrates more accurately the essence of Vietnamese culture: “displacement but never replacement.”  While the earliest name of the Vietnamese people (that of Lac) had been replaced by Viet, the Vietnamese language and particular cultural traditions (such as the belief that the Vietnamese people originated from Lac Long Quan and Au Co) owe its heritage to the ancient Lac society.

The following is a brief outline of the colonial diasporas in and their displacing effects on Vietnamese history: that of Austroasiatic colonial diasporas and Ou Yueh (Au Viet) colonial diaspora; the next online classroom will discuss the Chinese colonial diaporas, French diaspora, and the Japanese diaspora.

Austroasiatic Colonial Diasporas (3000-1000 B.C.)

Native speakers of Vietnamese today can claim descent from “the foundation movements of the major agriculturalist language families of Southeast Asia,” specifically that of Austroasiatic. [11]  That is, the Vietnamese language, a Mon-Khmer language of the Austroasiastic family, at least by one reputable opinion, is believed to “derive from the earliest agricultural colonization of mainland Southeast Asia, a process possibly commencing out of southern China about 3000 B.C.”[12]  Another reputable opinion is that “it is also possible that Austroasiatic languages were widely dispersed on the mainland of Southeast Asia before the Neolithic Period (also referred to as “the primitive agricultural stage”) and that rice farming was taken up by some of these groups in appropriate habitats from earlier rice cultivators in the north, who may have belonged to the Hmong-Mien language family.”[13]  

Notwithstanding, from 11000 B.C. to 3000 B.C., the area of northern Vietnam was settled by societies of Australo-Melanesian hunters and gatherers (also termed the Hoabinhians) and later, by those who practiced simple plant cultivation (also termed the Basconians).  Archaeological evidence from these sites suggests that these societies before 3000 B.C. made pottery, grew crops and kept animals. Bone materials from a wide range of mammal species were found, including pig, deer, dog, elephant, rhinoceros and cattle. Perhaps with the exception of pigs and dogs, none of these species appear to have been domesticated.[14]  When heavy core tools appeared starting around 8000 B.C., it clearly demonstrated the Australo-Melanesian’s innovation rather than inertia, as the transition from hunting to a greater dependence on plant food began in this region.[15]

There is little doubt, however, that starting about 3000 B.C., the semi-agricultural societies in northern Vietnam were confronted by a major agriculturalist language family of Austroasiatic who were also known for their advancement in rice cultivation,[16] while Australo-Melanesian societies in central/southern Vietnam were confronted by agriculturalist/seafaring language family of Austronesian.  The arrival of this agriculturalist language group “displaced” the Austro-Melanesian societies, as is evident by a complete shift to agriculture at least in northern (lowland) Vietnam. 

In regard to the purpose and scope of the Austroasiatic migrants’ aggrandizement, evidence supports the theory that demographic conditions in southern China (possibly due to increasingly large and sedentary populations which arise from advancement in agricultural productivity) facilitated their migration.[17]  Perhaps because the Australo-Melanesian societies lacked hierarchal or centralized social structures due to the ‘slash and burn’ of their shifting agriculture, they were not able to resist the arrival of the Austroasiatic migrants.  If we presume that there were earlier waves of Austroasiatic migrants, then these may have served as linkages that facilitated the spread of Austroasiatic “agricultural colonists into a world peopled by fairly sparse groups of hunters and gatherers.”[18]

This migration process possibly commences out of southern China where, in prehistoric times, the Austroasiatic language family – along with other language groups such the Hmong-Mien, Tai, and Asutonesian – were the early ancestors of this territory before the arrival of Sinitic language family, such as the Sino-Tibetan.[19]  The migration of these agriculturalist language families, especially the Austroasiatic and Austonesian, basically carried the proto-languages that gradually and eventually became the major languages of Southeast Asia through the mainland and the islands.[20]  Thus, archaeologists and linguists have described southern China in prehistory and early history as geographically and culturally Southeast Asian, although eventually these “southern cultures” underwent “Sinicization.”[21]   

From 3000-1000, the area of northern Vietnam experienced the passage of new cultures – that of the more settled agricultural societies with advanced agricultural techniques and of proto-Austroasiatic language.  If we presume that the concept of migrations in ancient times “involved a relatively small group of ruling class people, whose mastery of political and military affairs was felt throughout the linguistic and cultural scene,” then we may speculate that there was a longer, slower process of intermarriage and adaptation between Austroasiatic migrants and the Australo-Melanesians (some may have retreated to highlands of northern Vietnam), rather than a total displacement and a wholesale overrunning of the latter.  Recent studies support this view in which genetic data in Southeast Asia does not point clearly to the total replacement of the Australo-Melanesians, and that the proto-Austroasiatic and Austronesian languages were doubtlessly localized, by semi-agricultural peoples;[22] moreover, the region’s shared cultural symbols such as betel chewing has been established well before 3000 B.C.[23]

Nevertheless, the migration of Austroasiatic “agricultural colonists” cumulated into two periods of Neolithic/Bronze (as late as 1500, known as the Phung Nguyen culture) and Iron Ages (starting as late as 500 B.C., known as the Dong Son culture)[24]   in northern Vietnam. In the former, there is solid evidence for cultivation of rice, along with a broader range of cultural material, such as stone arrowheads and knives, baked clay spindle whorls and bow pellets, and pottery with incised and comb-stamped decoration.[25] Pottery in this period has been considered to be directly ancestral to the pottery of the archaeological Dong-Son society of the first millennium B.C,[26] which gives further support of a cultural continuity throughout the prehistoric occupation of the Red River valley.[27]   

The Dong Son culture may have played a large role in the dissemination of bronze-working technology.[28]  While is likely that there was constant interaction between southern China region and northern Vietnam (as well as stimulus from the former to the latter) after about 300 B.C., the classical Dong Son drums (also termed Heger I drums) that exemplified the cultural period were likely to have been manufactured in northern Vietnam.[29] The “roots” of the Dong Son culture, whose indigenous development of the bronze style is little beyond doubt,[30] may well extend back to at least 1000 B.C., antedating any significant northern influence.  In regard to the social and historical evidence for the Dong-Son period, evidence suggests the existence of a stratified society, perhaps under the rule of a single center, as attested by the textual inference of Van Lang (Kingdom), Hung (field/king/lords), and Lac [field/king/lords] in Chinese historical records,[31] which may have commenced as early as the seventh century B.C.[32] 

The cultural significance of Neolithic/Bronze and Iron Ages in northern Vietnam is that the solid consensus that there was a rich and vibrant Vietnamese civilization before Chinese arrival, as well as a proto-Vietnamese language along with cultural traditions that survived, though later they took on external influences through intimate contact with foreign colonial powers both in classical and modern times.  The migration of the Austroasiatic “agricultural colonists” could be considered a classic case of cultural diffusion of as well as a direct stimulus to the Australo-Melanesian semi-/shifting agricultural societies in which such diffusion gradually developed into indigenous Vietnamese civilization.

From Chinese historical records (existing only in quotations in later Chinese works between the third and fifth centuries A.D.):

In Kau-tsi [Chiao Chih, northern Vietnam]…when there were neither commanderies nor prefectures [that is prior to Chinese rule], the land was in lak [lac] fields.  In these fields the [level of the] water used to rise and fall in accordancewith the [rise and fall of the] tides.  The folk who brought these fields into cultivation were called Lak [Lac].  Subsequently, a Lak [Lac] king was instituted and Lak [Lac] lords appointed to govern commanderies and prefectures, [as well as] prefectural officials entitled to bronze zeals and green ribbons [which were symbols of investiture used by Ch’in and Han dynasties].[33]

Another quotation which appeared later in Chinese sources – though somewhat at variance to the above – described northern Vietnam before Chinese rule as:

Its soil is black and rich…so that these fields are called jiung [hung] fields, and the people [who cultivate them] jiung [hung] folk. There is a chief similarly styled the Jiung [Hung] King, whose aides are also called Jiung [Hung] lords.  The territory is apportioned among jiung [hung] officials.[34]

These two different traditions have been conjectured.  For example, Henri Maspero has claimed that Hung was an error for Lac and concluded that there never were Hung kings.[35]  Others, however, have found occurrences of Hung as a family name and that it is well attested in southwest China that it derives from a Mon-Khmer title of chieftainship.[36] If we were to accept the first tradition, then even a conservation conjecture would be that the “lac field were…the creations of an indigenous folk and consequently shared their ethnic attribution” whose chieftains commanded some form of social power.[37]

Notwithstanding, the word Lac is the earliest recorded name for the Vietnamese people and we can conjecture that Lac existed before 257 B.C. and with the arrival of Thuc Phan (King An Duong), who may have some association with the Ou Yueh/Viet lords, was able to survive by forming the political union of Au Lac (Au is simply the Vietnamese pronunciation of Ou).  While the word Lac disappeared when the Trung sisters and more than five thousand of their supporters were beheaded in their revolt against Han rule in 43 A.D., it was the factor that united the legendary Hung kings and the early “northern” influences and domination of Thuc Phan, Chao T’o, and early Han governors.

Meanwhile in central Vietnam, the semi-agricultural peoples and earlier Austroasiatic migrants were confronted by the migration of the Austronesian agricultural/seafaring colonists.  Thus, central Vietnam starting by 2000 B.C. was being populated by the Austronesian language family.  In particular, the Austronesian Chamic languages probably displaced earlier Austroasiatic languages and have been displaced in turn by Vietnamese expansion down the coast after the release of the latter from Chinese domination in the tenth century A.D. (Bellwood, 1979, 112-113).  Though it should not be taken for granted, the amount of connections, contacts, and loosely knit multiethnic confederations among the various cultures located in northern Vietnam, northeastern coastal and central Vietnam.  In fact, this would explain why Vietnamese language, a Mon-Khmer language of the Austroasiastic family, has clearly recognizable loans from Austronesian and later developed into a tonal language (likely borrowed from the Tai language group who spread into the region at a later date).  Such  contact is given visual form in the in the art of the Dong Son bronze drums, where sea birds and amphibians surround boats bearing warriors, revealing a ruling class perspective heavily influenced by Astronesian culture. 

Ou Yueh (Au Viet) Colonial Diaspora (258-207 B.C.)

According to the traditional Chinese historiography, the “birth” of Vietnam originated from the refugee population of Yueh, was an ethnical branch of the Chinese race, located along the coast where the Yangtze River enters the sea.  In 333 B.C., the state of Yueh was conquered by Ch’u, which was founded by a noble house closely linked with the Chou court (1027-256 B.C.) and was supposedly dispatched from central Yangtze to “colonize” the South.[38]   Consequently, the Yueh ruling class migrated southward, to an area which included the lower valley of the Hong River in northern Vietnam, and established small kingdoms and principalities that Chinese historians referred to as the “Hundred Yueh.”  

The above Chinese expansion, as noted by John Whitmore, set off disturbances throughout the south in which “one consequence appears to have been the Shu/Thuc [Thuc is Vietnamese for Shu] invasion of the Red River Delta in the third century B.C.”[39]  Thuc Phan is the first figure in Vietnamese history documented by historical sources, although much of what we know about his origin and his reign as King An Duong has survived in legendary forms.[40] According to Keith Taylor, Thuc Phan and his family were pushed southward by Chinese expansion, which “surely forced upon them some association with the Ou Yueh lords,” who were located on the frontier of northwestern Vietnam. 

The linkage between the Ou Yueh and the Lac society in northern Vietnam was one of military invasion. It is thought that the growing number of dispossessed Ou Lords caused by Chinese expansion created a context in which there was a call to recoup their fortunes by invading their southern neighbor.[41] This call was led by Thuc Phan. According to reliable sources, Thuc Phan invaded northern Vietnam with his army of thirty thousand, where the timing of the military invasion was probably opportunistic; that is, when Lac society was weak. 

The arrival of Thuc Phan in the Hong River plain became “the first major imposition of northern influence in historic times”[42] and was “the opening wedge for ‘Yueh’ influence in Hong River Plain.”[43]

In regard to the purpose and scope of Ou Yueh’s aggrandizement, we can speculate that it is dynastic in nature – that is, it probably reflected the personality and was conducted in the name of Thuc Phan.  Yet, most of what we know about Thuc Phan is mostly from legendary tales.   For example, from the legend of the golden turtle, a golden turtle assisted Thuc Phan in subduing the local spirits so that Thuc Phan could finish his citadel at Co Loa.  Before departing, the turtle gave Thuc Phan one of his claws to be used as the trigger of the king’s crossbow, assuring that he could destroy any enemy.  By some accounts, this turtle claw symbolizes the military nature of Thuc Phan’s conquest and reign, suggesting his rule was based on force or the threat of force.[44]

However, unlike the Austroasiatic colonial diasporas, the Ou Yueh’s aggrandizement was not a classic case of cultural diffusion and appeared in general not to have direct and stimulus effects on Lac society.  That is, the arrival of Ou Yueh lords and military personnel did not mark any large scale of sufficient magnitude to account for the origin of a people.[45]  In addition, there is no evidence the Thuc Phan’s arrival left any mark on the Vietnamese language or caused any demographic change.[46] However, Thuc Phan did built a great citadel at Co Loa which was his capital and may contributed to the development of the canal-irrigated rice fields that were present in northern Vietnam before 111 B.C.; as well as a centralized state in which, according to a Chinese census of 2 A.D., over a million people populated northern Vietnam.[47]

Yet, the key reason why Thuc Phan’s arrival did not transform the Lac society was merely the fact that the latter was a well established civilization whose physical size must have been considerable and whose language, cultural traditions, and class structures were effectively durable and stable.  This is in the sense that Thuc Phan’s reign was not able to disinherit the Lac society’s language, the Lac lords, or cultural motifs such as tattooing, betel chewing, and oral tradition. 

For instance, recent research shows that the initial settlement of Co Loa started about 2000 B.C.   Starting about 500 B.C.,[48] “there was a move in some lowland river locales, from village autonomy towards centralized chiefdoms, occurring approximately at the same time when the knowledge of iron-working was being established in Southeast Asia and slightly earlier than initial direct contact with Chinese and Indian civilization.[49]  The evidence that more than 200 Dong Son style drums have been found throughout the Southeast Asia region suggests that the Lac society was engaging in sophisticated intraregional trade, prior to the infusion of Chinese modes of authority and trading techniques.

Notwithstanding, Thuc Phan’s ensuing conquest produced a fusion of the invading Ou (Au) Yueh lords and the resident Lac lords, thereby forming the kingdom of Au Lac.[50]  Thuc Phan was apparently absorbed in the legendary traditions as King An Duong who came from the north and built a great capital but eventually fell prey to stronger forces coming from central China.[51]

But probably the lasting effect of Thuc Phan’s reign is that his arrival, that of the Ou Yueh, in northern Vietnam was utilized by the Chinese traditional historiography to demarcate the origin of the Vietnamese people, and perhaps because of the above simplicity of this, such perspective “still continued to attract attention.”[52]

Although Vietnamese are believed to have originated from the migration of the Yueh, as caused by the growing Chinese expansion in the third century A.D., it is more or less reflective of the ever present reality that the traditional Vietnamese society was displaced by Chinese colonial diasporas starting after the fall of Thuc Phan in 207 B.C. 

For example, the word “Viet” is the Vietnamese pronunciation of the Chinese term Yueh, which is employed by Chinese scholars as synonyms of “barbarian.”  When the Ch’in dynasty came to power in 222 B.C., it deployed a general, Chao T’o (Trieu Da in Vietnamese) to invade the southern Yueh lands and to establish a Chinese southern state, including conquering Thuc Phan and his Ou Yueh lords.  By 207 B.C., Chao T’o created a capital near modern Canton, commanding the Kwantung and Kwangsi Provinces, and the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam, and proclaiming himself King of Nan Yueh (Nam Viet).

During Chinese direct conquest of northern Vietnam in 43 A.D., the word Yueh/Viet increasingly came to express the conquered people’s place within the “middle kingdom.”  For the Chinese rulers, Yueh/Viet was to be temporary since these people would eventually be civilized and become Chinese. For the Vietnamese, after the beheading of more than five thousand Lac lords who were associates of the Trung Sisters’ rebellion against the Han dynasty in 41 A.D., their name Lac was no longer of account, whereas the name Yueh/Viet carried some weight. [53]

On the one hand, the word Viet connotes displacement and a permanent identity within the Chinese world view, but Viet also is rooted in a conviction not to be Chinese.[54] This conviction will later indicate that, while Vietnamese were displaced, they were never replaced.  However, such displacement does require the reconstruction of cultural identity in order to first survive and later, to put back the “place” into displacement.

Although the original Lac society eventually disappeared, there are still traces of their traditions. According to Gerald Hickey, characteristics of the Lac society can still be found today among Vietnam’s highlanders, particularly those speaking Mon Khmer languages.[55]These include the practice of levirate (that is, a man must marry the widow of his childless brother in order to maintain the brother’s line); having special deities associated with agriculture; and having a “dinh” or communal house temple for the guardian sprite of the village.[56]

It has been speculated that the Mon Khmer speakers are linguistically related to the Lac people, but the former chose to retreat to the country’s highlands when the northern forces came to the country.  So, if we want to examine the degree that “an indigenous core of ‘Vietnameseness’ survived unscathed through the fire of Chinese domination,” we may look to the Mon Khmer highlanders.

Online Reading and Questions

1. Nguyen Dinh Hoa, “An Outline of Vietnamese,” Vietnam Forum, Vol.11, 1988, (p.1-20).

• Is the Vietnamese language genetically related to Chinese?
• What has enabled the Vietnamese language to be “displaced but never replaced”?
• Do you think the Vietnamese language in the Vietnamese diasporic community could be maintained?

2. Nguyen Van Ky, “Rethinking the Status of Women in Folklore and Oral History,” in Gisele Bousquet and Pierre Brocheux, eds., Viet Nam Expose: French Scholarship on Twentieth-Century Vietnamese Society (Ann Harbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2005).

• What do Vietnamese legends and early history say about women status?
• What do Confucian values say about women status?
• What does the oral tradition say about women status?

 ——————————————————————————–

[1] John Sullivan, National Geographic Traveler: Vietnam (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2006), p.28.
[2] Georges Coedes, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. Translated by S.B. Cowing, ed. W.F. Vella (Honolulu: East-West Center Press, 1968), p.13
[3] Such a prevailing view appeared to have disregarded postulations that Southeast Asia could have been a “maker” of history rather than a receiver or a victim.  For example, in the early 1950s geographer Carl Sauer hypothesizes that the region should have been a center of plant domestication.  See his Agricultural Origins and Dispersals (New York: George Grady Press, 1952).   
[4] Georges Coedes, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, p.268, 403.
[5] John McAlister and Paul Mus, The Vietnamese and Their Revolution (New York: Harper and Row, 1970), p.50.
[6] Keith Taylor, “An Evaluation of the Chinese Period in Vietnamese History,” The Journal of Asiatic Studies (Korea University), 23 (1980), p.139.
[7] John Cady, Southeast Asia: Its Historical Development (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), p.4; Joseph Buttinger, The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1958), p.19.
[8] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences and the Vietnamese Cultural Core,” p.25.
[9] Ibid., p.17.
[10] Ibid., p.17.
[11] Peter Bellwood, “The Origins and Dispersals of Agricultural Communities in Southeast Asia,” in Ian Glover and Peter Bellwood, ed., Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History (London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), p.22.
[12] Ian Glover and Peter Bellwood, Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History (London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), p.11.
[13] Ibid., p.11.
[14] Peter Bellwood, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), p.87.
[15] Miksic, 1995, p.49.
[16] Peter Bellwood, “The Origins and Dispersals of Agricultural Communities,” p.22.
[17] Ibid., p.23.
[18] Ibid., 24.
[19] Ibid., p.21-23.
[20] Ibid., p.22.
[21] Though some still include south China (but not Burma), as a part of mainland Southeast Asia. See Peter Bellwood’s Man’s Conquest of the Pacific.
[22] Peter Bellwood, “The Origins and Dispersals of Agricultural Communities,” p.22.
[23] Peter Bellwood, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific, p.71
[24] Charles Higham, “Mainland Southeast Asia from the Neolithic to the Iron Age,” in in Ian Glover and Peter Bellwood, ed., Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History,p.41.
[25] Peter Bellwood, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific, p.96.
[26] Ibid., p.96
[27] Charles Higham, The Archaeology of Mainland Southeast Asia: From 10,000 B.C. to the Fall of Angkor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p.193.
[28] Peter Bellwood, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific, p.129.
[29] Ibid., p.122.
[30] Bayard, 1980, 106
[31] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), Appendix B; Paul Wheatley, Nagara and Commandery (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1983), p.67-69.
[32] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, Appendix D.
[33] Paul Wheatley, Nagara and Commandery, p.67
[34] Ibid., p.69
[35] Henri Maspero also concluded that Van Lang was an error for Yeh-Lang, the name of ancient kingdom in Kuei-Chou.  Thus, there never was a kingdom of Van Lang.
[36] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, Appendix B.
[37] Paul Wheatley, Nagara and Commandery, p.68.
[38] Blakeley, Barry “The Geography of Chu” in Defining Chu: Image and Reality in Ancient China, Ed. By constance A. Cook and John S. Major, Honolulu: Hawaii Press, 1999, 10
[39] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences and the Vietnamese Cultural Core,” in D.R. SarDesai, Southeast Asian History: Essential Readings (Los Angeles: Westview Press, 2006), p.25.
[40] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, p.21.
[41] Ibid., p.20.
[42] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences and the Vietnamese Cultural Core,” p.25.
[43] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, p.17.
[44] Ibid., p.21.
[45] Ibid., p.17.
[46] Ibid., p.17.
[47] Peter Bellwood, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific, p.125.
[48] Charles Higham, “Mainland Southeast Asia,” p.46.
[49] Charles Higham, The Archaeology of Mainland Southeast Asia, p.30
[50] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam, p.20.
[51] Ibid., p.23.
[52] Ibid., Appendix E.
[53] Ibid., p.43.
[54] Ibid., p. xviii.
[55] Gerald Hickey, Sons of the Mountains: Ethnohistory of the Vietnamese Central Highlands to 1954 (New Haven: Yale University of Press, 1982), p.62-63.
[56] Georges Coedes, The Making of South East Asia. Translated by H.M. Wright (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), p.218.
 

Written by longsivietle

January 30, 2008 at 6:15 pm

Conceptualizing Displacement

2.1 Theorizing and Conceptualizing Displacement in the Vietnamese Context

Defining Displacement and its Relations with Diasporas
Types of Colonial Rule and their Effects on Displacement
Outlining the Colonial Diasporas in Vietnamese History
Further Reading

As noted in the Introduction, we will utilize the motif of displacement to theorize and conceptualize how the current Vietnamese diaspora relates to and/or transcends Vietnam’s migration history and experiences. The advantage of displacement is its numerous operative paradigms – that of a theoretical signifier, a textual strategy, and a lived experience – which will help us to contextualize and to characterize the various forms of diaspora across time and space. For example, displacement as a theoretical signifier will allow us to recognize the historical and political conditions that produce periods in which Vietnamese were displaced both internally and externally from their native culture and society; displacement as a textual strategy will provide us the opportunity to understand why Vietnamese may be “displaced but never replaced” though it remains a source of estrangement; and displacement as a lived experience will help us to conceptualize the relationship between displacement and the reconstruction of identity which is necessary for cultural survival and later, to assert and negotiate cultural and intellectual rights to put back the “place” into displacement.

We will begin with a necessary but brief survey of the concept of displacement and its relation to diaspora. This will ensure that our interpretation of displacement is not based on constructing the shape of the past to shape the present, but rather based on “following directions and messages provided” by the sources.[1] In addition, we will examine different “types of aggrandizement” that colonist powers engaged in expanding their control over colonized societies. This will allow us to outline the historical, political, and international conditions that have produced different types of colonial diasporas of which have had displacing effects on Vietnamese traditional society. Such outline will essentially draw our attention to a central theme in Vietnamese history: that is, Vietnamese as ‘victims,’ ‘localizers,’ and ‘resisters’ of the Chinese, French, and Japanese colonial diasporas; in later a blog, we will outline and analyze the Vietnamese colonial diaporas that had displaced other peoples, cultures, and states, including that of the Cham, Khmer, the former Republic of South Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Defining Displacement and its Relations with Diasporas

In defining displacement, we are fortunate to have Angelika Bammer’s succinct analytical definition: “The separation of people from their native culture either through physical dislocation (as refugees, immigrants, migrants, exiles or expatriates) or the colonizing imposition of a foreign culture.”[2] Bammer’s displacement signifies one of the most formative experiences – that of the human condition and conditions of knowledge – in the twentieth century, where over 30 million people were uprooted and forcibly moved as a result of Nazi policies and World War II;[3] overlapping with this is another 60-80 million refugees worldwide who have been cut off from their homelands since the end of the second war. Bammer also draws attention to “people who are not expelled from but displaced within their native culture by processes of external and internal colonization” but of which “no comparable counts or estimates exist.”[4] Though not all those under colonial rule can be said to be displaced. There is more certainty, however, that the cumulative effect of colonial policies in general:

the expropriation of land that often left indigenous peoples with merely a small, and mostly poorer, portion of their own land; the pass laws that controlled and regulated their physical movement; the economic shifts that forced them into the new centers of imperial employment thus creating new patterns of migratory labor; the presence of a foreign ruling power that disappropriated local cultures.[5]

In utilizing displacement as a theoretical signifier, we take liberty in further deconstructing (while remaining within the framework of) Bammer’s definition in two broad categories. The first is emigrants who are physically dislocated either “voluntary” or who are “forced;” that is not due to “colonizing imposition of a foreign culture” per se, but rather by the country’s own internal socioeconomic and political factors.[6] The second is those who are physically dislocated by the “colonizing imposition of a foreign culture,” which results in either their displacement from their native land/culture or their displacement within their native land/culture.[7]

For us, the importance of the above categories is that they assist in defining the concept of diaspora, providing a background in recognizing specifically the victim tradition and the colonial tradition of diaspora.

In the former, the displaced person can be considered a victim if he/she is forcibly and politically removed from (or he/she emigrates in the fear of being politically persecuted if he/she stays in) the native land/culture either by the country’s government or by colonial rule. When this occurs at “noticeable” human scale, such movement entails “the catastrophic origin, the forcible dispersal and the estrangement” of a people, which we term ‘victim diaspora.’[8] Here, the victim diaspora is a subset of displacement,[9] or separate from the paragon of transnationalism, transmigration, or global capitalism.[10]

In the latter, the “colonizing imposition of a foreign culture” provides us a background to the tradition of the colonial diaspora in which the colonizers are dispersed widely in order to sow their seeds, to expand for and to further their imperial plans. Here, colonial diaspora allows us to recognize the effects of colonial rule on a society where a population is colonized and internally displaced, in which degrees of assimilation to the colonists’ culture, localization, and “creolization,” or resistantance to the colonists’ culture can occur, separate from the external displacement caused by colonial rule.[11]

Epistemologically, the colonial diaspora, or diaspora of active colonization, derives from Greek term diasperien, from dia-, “across” and –sperien, “to sow or scatter seeds.” It was a predominate feature of the Greek diaspora, describing its colonization of Asia Minor and the Mediterranean from 800-600 B.C. For the Greeks, establishing their own diasporas abroad in general connotes a positive experience – expansion through plunder, military conquest, and migration.[12] Such diaspora of active colonization tradition was later followed by the British, Russians, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and French.[13]

By contrast, the origin of diaspora Jewish experience was marked by the destruction of Jerusalem in 568 B.C., which “created the central folk memory of the negative, victim diaspora tradition, emphasizing in particular the experience of enslavement, exile and displacement.”[14] This victim tradition later experienced by Africans, Armenians, Irish, and Palestinians – connotes afflictions of being isolated, insecure of living in a foreign place, adrift from their roots, and oppressed by an alien ruling class.[15] But we should also note that some groups can take dual or multiple forms, or even change their character over time.[16] As argued by Robert Cohen, victim diaspora, such as the Jews, whose origin can be regarded as such, can have an imperial phase, as is evident in the Zionist colonization of Palestine.[17]

The above, of course, indicates the opposing notions of victim diaspora and colonial diaspora. But rather than trying to resolve the opposing notions,[18] we may gain more by understanding the historical and political conditions that produce the colonial diaspora and victim diaspora, as well as by analyzing the dynamics and tension within and between them. For now, however, let us focus first on the impacts and effects of the colonial diasporas on their colonized societies.

This approach, or textual strategy, will allow us to later see displacement caused by colonial diasporas as one of the central themes in Vietnamese history in both classical and modern periods; in addition, it will also allow us to see Vietnamese as the “aggressors,” having their own colonial diasporas and having displaced other peoples, cultures, and states.

Types of Colonial Rule and their Effects on Displacement

Given that displacement caused by the “colonizing imposition of a foreign culture” by Western powers (hereinafter referred to as western colonial diasporas) had been one of the underlying themes in the twentieth century, we will focus on expansionist factors that help explain, in part, the impacts and effects of western colonial diasporas on their colonized societies, focusing on Asian countries.

We will briefly analyze these expansionist factors and postulate their displacing effects on Asian traditional societies. Our purpose, of course, is to utilize such analysis to detect and outline the various types of colonial rule (hereinafter referred to as colonial diaspora) that have taken form in Vietnam in both the classical and modern periods, as well as the colonial diaspora phases that Vietnam itself has taken on.

Again, we are fortunate to have Frank Darling’s study on the “westernization” or colonization of Asia.[19] His work identifies four “types of aggrandizement” in which western colonial diasporas have engaged in expanding their control to Asian traditional societies: 1) dynastic, 2) economic, 3) ideological, and 4) tutelary.

In short, dynastic aggrandizement is characterized as intensely personal and conducted in the name of the sovereign ruler, although such colonizations have been precarious and uncertain.[20] Economic aggrandizement took place when propensity to expand and acquire overseas colonies was motivated primarily by the desire to promote rapid economic development, which tended to result in a more stable colonial rule than the dynastic.[21] Ideological aggrandizement consisted of the extension of national power into colonial territories by an expansionist regime pursuing the goals of an abstract messianic doctrine but, like the dynastic, it was affected by the shifting political forces within the ruling expansionist regime;[22]and tutelary aggrandizement is characterized as the acquisition of colonial territories for the primary purpose of instructing the indigenous people in selected elements of the culture of the colonial power, which tended to result a relatively moderate and, once established, sought no additional territory.[23] There are, of course, various forms in each of the four types, and that each type is not exclusive; that is, a colonist can pursue numerous types of aggrandizement.

However, of course, the impacts of the purpose and scope in the above types of aggrandizement are interrelated with the geographical factors of the traditional society, such as the strategic location, physical size, and the duration of years of the traditional society.[24] “Where settlement for colonial or military purposes by one power occurred, an ‘imperial [colonial] diaspora’ can be said to have resulted,” as noted by Robert Cohen.[25] However, before any colonial diaspora can take place, there are usually linkages between the colonizer and the colonized. These linkages include military invasions, foreign missionaries, foreign traders, tribute missions, indigenous returnees, political exiles, and foreign communities.[26]

It is important to note that the recognized types of aggrandizement and their linkages have tended to operate within the context of time: unilateral-monopolistic timing (that is, the expansion occurred because of a “power vacuum” that essentially allowed a colonial power to monopolize a particular region and only limited by the available resources and voluntary restraints of that colonial power); and multilateral-competitive timing (that is, when the expansion of a new colonial power is confronted with opposition from one or more competing colonial powers). Of course, some countries were strong enough to prevent these foreign linkages to take full form and, thus, were able to confine a full-blown colonization.[27] But when colonial diasporas do take place, the indigenous population will produce a response, consisting of the reaction and replication of the indigenous people to the colonial impact. Of importance are the cultural, religious, and political systems of the traditional society; these are of significance in terms of its ability to resist or assimilate to the various colonist values and institutions.[28]

Although it will be very limited, the above analytical framework will come to light when we apply it to an actual case: the American colonization of the Philippines.

According to Frank Darling, American colonial policy in the Philippines consisted of tutelary aggrandizement goals, instructing the indigenous people on (but confining them) the formation of indigenous democratic political institutions modeled after those in the United States, which, in turn, involved the establishment of a supplementary American-oriented educational system.[29] The American colonization process tended to be erratic and constrained due to American domestic politics at the time regarding whether the nation should pursue expansionism or isolationism, but, nevertheless, it was the only Western power whose avowed purpose at the outset was its own liquidation.[30] In part, American tutelary aggrandizement was affected by multilateral-competitive timing. That is, the U.S. was pressured to rationalize its acquisition, rather than seeking a territorial extension of its power.[31] This form of timing contributed to the training of indigenous political leaders suitable for democratization in the Philippines. In part, Filipino leaders who took early consultative roles in the exercise of executive authority had produced a profound confidence and intensified the local desire for national independence, which “was one of the most important elements in the entire indigenous response.”[32]

As is evident, the passage of Tydings-McDuffie Act in 1934 provided a timetable for Philippine independence; in 1936, when the Philippine Commonwealth was created only a few American administrators were employed in educational and technical posts.[33] The idea of an efficient transfer of sovereignty to the Philippines could be traced to the Wilsonian concept of national self-determination promulgated at the end of WWI. In contrast to French rule in Indochina, the American form of colonial rule did prepare and transfer sovereignty to the Philippines via new political institutions modeled on the American constitutional system, and because the central issue was about the timing of national independence the Philippine nationalist movement was never suppressed.[34] Similarly, American social policy consisted of a dual purpose program of secular education to promote democratic norms and values to a mass electorate and to train indigenous elite to maintain a democratic society. In particular, the number of Filipino students who attended public school by 1922 (more than one million) was unprecedented by any Western colonial standard.[35] While the Philippine economy was largely dependent on the U.S. (the American economy consumed 75 percent of the Philippine exports while providing 85 percent of its imports), American economic policy did not uproot the Philippine agrarian economy.

However, at the same time, as argued by Mark Philip Bradley, the American “exceptionalist” colonial approach in the Philippines still “echoed the fundamental beliefs in racialized cultural hierarchies that underlay the broader American encounter with nonwhite peoples at home and abroad.”[36] And, as argued by Glenn May, American colonialism in the Philippines failed to “bring about fundamental change.”[37]

On the one hand, Darling’s comparative analysis may marginalize particular historical inputs as well as long-term displacing effects in order to invent a systematic framework that is able to compare and contrast the highly and multifaceted impacts of, and the indigenous response to, western colonial powers in Asian colonized societies. But for our purposes, such systematic framework will provide us a textual construct to outline the historical, political, and international conditions that have produced different types of colonial diasporas of which have had different displacing effects in Vietnamese history.

Outlining the Colonial Diasporas in Vietnamese History

As we noted earlier, there are two historical traditions of diaspora: that of victim diaspora and colonial diaspora. Here, we will focus on colonial diasporas and their effects on Vietnamese traditional society, the internal displacement of Vietnamese native culture. In the later blogs, we will discuss specific dimensions of displacement caused by colonial diasporas; outline and analyze the Vietnamese colonial diasporas that had displaced other peoples, cultures, and states, including that of the Cham, Khmer, the former Republic of South Vietnam, and Cambodia; and theorize and conceptualize the victim diaspora in Vietnamese history.

For now, we will briefly discuss the colonial diasporas in Vietnamese history, which will essentially draw our attention to a central theme in Vietnamese cultural identity. That is, Vietnamese as ‘victims,’ ‘localizers,’ and ‘resisters’ of the Chinese, French, and Japanese colonial diasporas.

There is today a consensus among Vietnam scholars that the ancestors of the Vietnamese had their own kings and cultural symbols long before the arrival of Chinese colonial powers (or what we will refer to as Chinese colonial diasporas), although when the ancient Vietnamese civilization originated and the degree of indigenous innovation and evolution are not known with certainty; and presumably, according to Keith Taylor, the continued existence of the Vietnamese indigenous civilization “would have been assured even if they had never heard of China.”[38]

Notwithstanding, from the beginning of recorded history in the third century B.C. (when Vietnamese culture and society for the first time were part of a kingdom, Nam Viet, encompassing all of southern China in 207 B.C.), to 939 A.D., Vietnamese culture and society had been thought of as a branch of Chinese civilization and empire who had been blessed with China’s “civilizing” influence.[39] It has even been thought that the reason Vietnamese society “was able for centuries to resist Chinese aggression” while all the neighboring states had become Chinese “was because it was the only one to have been subjected to government by a permanent Chinese administration…[which] gave [Vietnamese] a cohesion and formal structure which its neighbors lacked.”[40]

Conveniently, French intellectual support for its ‘mission civiliatrice’ drew on the observation that Vietnam was once relatively progressive and intelligent due to Chinese cultural influence, but of which had relapsed. Vietnam’s “imitativeness” became nothing more than a somewhat eccentric and stunted extension of China, according to this view. For French historians, after separating from China in 939, the Vietnamese made no progress on Chinese civilization throughout the centuries. Adrien Launay suggested that “the complete absence of progress that the Annamites [Vietnamese] had on Chinese civilization and the neglible development in the arts and sciences, far inferior to that of the Chinese” illustrated that without Chinese domination, “Giao-chi [northern Vietnam] of old times would have rested in savage tribal communities, just like the Muong who live on the frontiers of their country.”[41] By implication, Vietnamese, like other peoples, will “progress only when provided with the necessary stimulus: they require contact with people of a more refined culture.”[42]

However, the Vietnamese, as a result of their experience under Chinese rule, necessarily became expert survival artists. This is illustrated in Ngo Si Lien’s statement of how Vietnamese should respond to constant Chinese aggression:

South [Vietnam] and North [China], when strong or when weak, each has its time. When the North is weak, then we are strong, and when the North is strong, then we become weak; that is how things are. This being so, those who lead the country must train soldiers, repair transport, be prepared for surprise attacks, set up obstacles to defend the borders, use the ideas of a large country with the warriors of a small country…If an invasion is imminent, take words and negotiate, or offer gems and silk as tribute; if this does not succeed, then, though danger flood from every side, man the walls and fight the battles, vowing to resist until death and to die with the fatherland; in that case one need be ashamed of nothing.[43]

In fact, the “rebirth” of Vietnam after its independence was the birth of a spirit of resistance to the universal claims of Chinese power. Keith Talyor summarizes very well the advice of Ngo Si Lien to his fellow countrymen:

Vietnamese independence [will be] the result of commitments made by successive generations…It [will need] the collective decision of a society to risk danger for the sake of preserving its heritage.[44]

Also worthy of note is Ngo Si Lien’s advice on using “the ideas of a large country with the warriors of a small country.” Vietnamese were quite receptive to the intellectual trends in China and though imperfect have been able to reconcile their attraction to Chinese political ideas, social practices, literary fashions and technology with a truly passionate determination to preserve Vietnam’s independence.[45] Moreover, as noted by John Whitmore, there is a “Vietnamese cultural core” that is constant thought shifting entity, where foreign elements and ideologies would be able to graft onto it, but “the important fact is the Vietnamese ability to make any such ‘foreign-ness’ Vietnamese;”[46] thus, Vietnam is not the smaller, eccentric or stunted dragon.

Not unlike the dynastic scholars, Vietnamese intellectuals in the early twentieth century also saw it as their responsibility to fight against French imperialism. In fact, many of these intellectuals began to ask what they could learn from Europe and America. According to many of these scholars, to survive and to modernize, Vietnamese had to produce the talents, skills, and ideas of a Watt, Edison, Kant, and Rousseau, whose ideas were the sources of Western civilization, wealth and power. Some were also conscious and sought the example of Tagore and Ganhdi in overthrowing a western power while still achieving a fusion of eastern and western thoughts. Like Ngo Si Lien, Phan Boi Chau, a prominent scholar at the time, saw the necessity for Vietnamese, particularly women and soldiers, to be trained professionally and vocationally in the western ways in order to achieve modernization and independence from the French, bringing about a desire for progress and adventure, love and trust, virtue and heroism, no obnoxious mandarins, no dissatisfied citizens, no imperfect educational system, no neglected industry and no losing commercial activities.[47] After that, the West “will learn from us,” and that we “shall keep our own way of life,” declared Phan Boi Chau.[48]

However, as observed by John Whitmore, when new foreign elements are integrated to the indigenous’ own context and its own understanding of itself, this “will inevitably be imperfect and may lead to tension and stress within the society.”[49] That is, such fusion – such as Phan Boi Chau’s embrace of the West modernity but not its colonial rule – was completely incompatible to the Vietnamese communist intellectuals’ borrowing of the Marxist-Leninist thoughts, which was initially “set out to replace everything in the Vietnamese tradition”[50] with a significant degree of single-mindedness on rechanneling “people’s loyalties and obligations away from their own parochial interests to the party, revolution, and the collective” via institutional structures, civic rituals, and literacy.[51] This foreshadowed “the two Viet-Nams” of the Vietnam War.

Perhaps, the question for Vietnam, today under a communist regime, is “to ask now and in the future the contribution of Marxist ideology to Vietnamese culture in the same way that we ask it of Buddhism and Confucianism.”[52]

For a brief outline of particular colonial diasporas in and their displacing effects in Vietnamese history, see 3.1 Online Classroom which includes the Austroasiatic Colonial Diasporas (3000-1000 B.C.); Ou Yueh (Au Viet) Colonial Diaspora (257-207 B.C.); Chinese Diasporas (207 B.C. – 939 A.D.); French Colonial Diaspora (1862 -1954); and Japanese Diaspora (1941-1945).

Further Reading

——————————————————————————–

[1] O.W. Wolters, Two Essays on Dai Viet in the Fourteenth Century (New Haven: Yale Council on Southeast Asia Studies, 1988), p. ix.
[2] Angelika Bammer, Displacement: Cultural Identities in Question (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), p. xi.
[3] Ibid, p. xi.
[4] Ibid, p.xi.
[5] Ibid, p. xi-xii.
[6] It should be noted that the task of separating voluntary and involuntary migration is much more difficult in practice. There has also been a growing effort by scholars to differentiate migration cause by man-made disasters and migration cause by natural disasters.
[7] Today, the displaced person in either category who has crossed an international border and who falls under relevant international refugee law instruments maybe considered a refugee, whereas an internal displaced person in the second category is subjected to more tenuous international refugee law protection.
[8] Robert Cohen, Global Diasporas: An Introduction (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997), p.177.
[9] According to Wanni Anderson and Robert Lee, “the relationship between the tropes of diaspora and transnational social practice can be understood bet as two related but often contradictory aspects or subsets of displacements.” See their Displacement and Diasporas: Asians in the Americas (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2005), p.10.
[10] Other scholars, however, argues diasporas are connected to and frequently marked by the flows of transnationalism, transmigration, and even global capitalism. Therefore, economic migrants or transmigrants can be considered diasporic and can inflect diasporic formulations. For example, many Asia sex workers travel to Japan on tourist visas and never return to their homeland for socioeconomic reasons. These workers become trapped by the pressures of family, nation, and economic necessity. Therefore, they are tied to their homeland via debt, family obligation, and statelessness. See Jana Evans Braziel and Anita Mannur, Theorizing Diaspora: A Reader (Mass.: Blackwell, 2003), p.11, 13.
[11] Robert Cohen, Global Diasporas, p.66.
[12] Ibid, p.66.
[13] Ibid, p.178.
[14] Robert Cohen, “Diasporas and the Nation-state: From Victims to Challengers,” International Affairs, Vol.72, No.3 (July, 1996), p.508.
[15] Ibid, 508.
[16] We are also fortunate to have Robert Cohen’s fluid typology of diaspora which consists of victim, labor, trade, imperial and cultural diasporas. We will later analyze this typology in more detail. See Cohen’s Global Diasporas: An Introduction.
[17] Robert Cohen, Global Diasporas, p.179.
[18] In general, this has been resolved by over centuries of advocacy by the victim diaspora’s experiences in which the heart of diaspora’s definition has become to mean a collective trauma of banishment, exile, and the longing to return home. However, Robin Cohen has argued the victim tradition is more complex and diverse. For example, diaspora’s experiences in modern nation-states have resulted in considerable intellectual and economic achievements. By implication, there is a need to transcend the victim tradition. See his Diasporas and the Nation-state: From Victims to Challengers, International Affairs, Vol.72, No.3 (July, 1996), 513.
[19] Frank Darling, The Westernization of Asia: A Comparative Political Analysis (Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1979).
[20] Ibid, p.105-106.
[21] Ibid, p.106-109.
[22] Ibid, p.109-110.
[23] Ibid, p.110-112.
[24] Ibid., p.79-87.
[25] Robert Cohen, Global Diasporas, p.66.
[26] Frank Darling, Westernization of Asia, p.63-71.
[27] Robert Cohen, Global Diasporas, p.65.
[28] Frank Darling, Westernization of Asia, p.3.
[29] Ibid., p.111.
[30] Ibid., p.111.
[31] Ibid., p.116.
[32] Ibid., p.286.
[33] Ibid., p.287.
[34] Ibid, p.121, 127.
[35] Ibid., p.143.
[36] Mark Philip Bradley, Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), p.6.
[37] Glenn May, Social Engineering in the Philippines: The Aims, Execution, and Impact of American Colonial Policy, 1900-1913 (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1980).
[38] Keith Taylor, The Birth of Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), p. xviii.
[39] Ibid., p. xvii.
[40] Keith Taylor, “An Evaluation of the Chinese Period in Vietnamese History,” The Journal of Asiatic Studies (Korea University), 23 (1980), p.139
[41] Cited in Nhung TuyetTran and Anthony Reid, Viet Nam: Borderless Histories (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), p.6.
[42] Cited in Victor Lieberman, Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p.8.
[43] Keith Taylor, Birth of Vietnam, p.301.
[44] Ibid., p.301.
[45] Alexander Woodside, “Vietnamese History: Confucianism, Colonialism and the Struggle for Independence,” The Vietnam Forum, Vol.11 (1986), p.23.
[46] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences and the Vietnamese Cultural Core,” in D.R. SarDesai, Southeast Asian History: Essential Readings (Los Angeles: Westview Press, 2006), p.40.
[47] Chau Boi Phan, “The New Vietnam (1907),” in Truong Buu Lam, Colonialism Experienced: Vietnamese Writings on Colonialism, 1900-1931 (Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2003), pp.105-123.
[48] Ibid, p.109, 121.
[49] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences,” p.125.
[50] Smith, Viet-Nam and the West, 152, 145.
[51] Malarney, Culture, Ritual and Revolution in Vietnam, p.55.
[52] John Whitmore, “Foreign Influences,” p.40.

Written by longsivietle

January 24, 2008 at 11:34 am

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