Culture and Customs of Vietnam

Greenwood Publishing Group
Free sample

Vietnam is increasingly opening up to the West, and society is in flux between tradition and modernity, and capitalism and socialism. Americans have distanced themselves from the Vietnam War now, and Culture and Customs of Vietnam fills a need to learn about the country, which has also evolved. Readers will find that this is the only general book on Vietnamese culture in English written by specialists. McLeod and Nguyen, historians specializing in Vietnam engagingly show the various forces of Vietnamese culture in narrative chapters on the land, people, and language; history and institutions; thought and religion; literature; art and architecture; cuisine; family, marriage, gender, and youth culture; festivals and leisure activities, and performing arts.

Culture and Customs of Vietnam is a comprehensive, one-stop source, providing the most useful and intriguing information for students and general readers. Some of the highlights include the discussion of the Chinese influence in writing, thought, and religion; eating habits; the changing family; and water puppetry. A chronology, glossary, and numerous photos complement the text.

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About the author

MARK W. MCLEOD is Associate Professor of History at the University of Delaware./e He is the author of The Vietnamese Response to French Intervention, 1862-1874 (Praeger, 1991).

NGUYEN THI DIEU, born in Vietnam, is Associate Professor of History at Temple University. She is the author of The Mekong River and the Struggle for Indochina: Water, War, and Peace (Praeger, 1999).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Greenwood Publishing Group
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Published on
Dec 31, 2001
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Pages
198
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ISBN
9780313304859
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Tracing the history of the Mekong River, this book shows how its conceptualization and utilization have been transformed in modern times, and particularly during the Vietnam war when the Mekong River and Mekong Project became political pawns. Nguyen concludes by examining the continuation of some of the Project's schemes by the independent Southeast Asian countries and regional powers.

The Mekong River links together the mainland countries of Southeast Asia in a vital geographic, but also economic and political, unit. Its historical trajectory coursed through kingdoms and colonies, and its physical presence and symbolism became more acute as it came closer to modern times. Tracing the history of the Mekong River, this book shows how its conceptualizations have been transformed in modern times, and particularly during the Vietnam War when the Mekong River and Mekong Project became political pawns.

In the 1950s, the decision was made to develop the river's resources to foster economic development for the four countries of the lower Mekong basin. The Mekong Project, as it came to be known, proposed the construction of a set of major dams on the mainstream and of numerous smaller ones on the tributaries to bring hydropower, flood control, irrigation, and other benefits to the riparian countries. The Project, however, was subverted to the needs of the Vietnam War. With the return of peace, the Mekong countries can re-examine the future of the river and its potential impact on the region. Nguyen concludes by examining the continuation of some of the Project's schemes by the independent Southeast Asian countries and regional powers. Scholars and researchers interested in Southeast Asian history and economic development, environmental history, and rural sociology will find this an important study.

The American experience in Vietnam divided us as a nation and eroded our confidence in both the morality and the effectiveness of our foreign policy. Yet our understanding of this tragic episode remains superficial because, then and now, we have never grasped the passionate commitment with which the Vietnamese clung to and fought over their own competing visions of what Vietnam was and what it might become. To understand the war, we must understand the Vietnamese, their culture, and their ways of looking at the world. Neil L. Jamieson, after many years of living and working in Vietnam, has written the book that provides this understanding.

Jamieson paints a portrait of twentieth-century Vietnam. Against the background of traditional Vietnamese culture, he takes us through the saga of modern Vietnamese history and Western involvement in the country, from the coming of the French in 1858 through the Vietnam War and its aftermath. Throughout his analysis, he allows the Vietnamese—both our friends and foes, and those who wished to be neither—to speak for themselves through poetry, fiction, essays, newspaper editorials and reports of interviews and personal experiences.

By putting our old and partial perceptions into this new and broader context, Jamieson provides positive insights that may perhaps ease the lingering pain and doubt resulting from our involvement in Vietnam. As the United States and Vietnam appear poised to embark on a new phase in their relationship, Jamieson's book is particularly timely.
Despite the historical importance of the Vietnam War, we know very little about what the Vietnamese people thought and felt prior to the conflict. Americans have tended to treat Vietnam as an extension of their own hopes and fears, successes and failures, rather than addressing the Vietnamese record. In this volume, David Marr offers the first serious intellectual history of Vietnam, focusing on the period just prior to full-scale revolutionary upheaval and protracted military conflict. He argues that changes in political and social consciousness between 1920 and 1945 were a necessary precondition to the mass mobilization and people's war strategies employed subsequently against the French and the Americans. Thus he rejects the prevailing notion that Vietnamese success was primarily due to communist techniques of organization.

However, Vietnamese Tradition on Trial goes beyond simply accounting for anyone's victory or defeat to an informed description of intellectual currents in general. Replying for his information on a previously ignored corpus of books, pamphlets, periodicals, and leaflets, the author isolates eight issues of central concern to twentieth-century Vietnamese. The new intelligentsia—indubitably the product of a peculiar French colonial milieu, yet never divorced from the Vietnamese past and always looking to a brilliant Vietnamese future—spearheaded every debate beginning ini 1925.

After 1945, Vietnamese intellectuals either placed themselves under ruthless battlefield discipline or withdrew to private meditation. David Marr suggests that the new problems facing Vietnamese today make both of these approaches anachronistic. Whether the Vietnam Communist Party will allow citizens to subject received wisdom to critical debate, to formulate new explanations of reality, to test those explanations in practice, is the essential question lingering at the end of this study.
This is one of the very few scholarly Western-language studies of the Vietnamese reaction to the French colonial conquest of Vietnam during the nineteenth century. Utilizing Vietnamese primary sources to examine the reaction of scholars and the Vietnamese court to the French conquests, Mark McLeod goes beyond studies that only analyze the conflict from primarily French sources. As he states in the introduction, the dynamic force behind Vietnamese historical development was usually seen to be the activity of colonial enterprises. The Vietnamese people themselves enter these histories only insofar as they hinder or advance colonial policies, to be blamed or praised accordingly. McLeod studies the renaissance of historical writing that followed the political independence of Vietnam and presents the Vietnamese view of the nineteenth century colonization.

The Vietnamese Response to French Intervention, 1862-1874 focuses on a period that has been generally neglected by Vietnam scholars, the crucial early years of the French conquest. It then analyzes the role of Catholic missionaries and the Vietnamese reaction to their presence during the conquest. Providing historical background to the period of French colonization, McLeod explores the significance of the long Nguyen Dynasty as well as the Franco-Spanish invasion prior to French occupation. Students and scholars of Southeast Asian history and colonization, as well as the general reader interested in Vietnamese ideology and thought, will find this book a valuable resource.

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

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