My primary research interests are the history of Vietnam in the twentieth century, especially the intellectual history of South Vietnam during 1950-1975, and the history of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants in the U.S. in various aspects.  There are many large lacunae in both fields but also a lot of potential for scholarship, especially on the Vietnamese diaspora.

See also my current research, academic presentations, and publications.

The bulk of primary sources in my research comes from noncommunist South Vietnamese and the first generation of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants in America.  In South Vietnam and America later, Vietnamese produced a massive amount of publications, many of which are housed at Cornell, University of California, University of Washington, and other institutions.  There are of course many other documents, in Vietnamese or English, at archives across the U.S. and Vietnam. 

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Summer 2008 – Sorting through South Vietnamese publications at Cornell University

To place it in a broader background, recent historical scholarship on South Vietnam focuses on politics and diplomacy and a good deal less on society, culture, and intellect. But there are some works in the last few years, and hopefully more will come out in the next decade.  Studies of Vietnamese Americans and the Vietnamese diaspora, on the other hand, have come primarily from social scientists, which means there is a lot of room for historians to operate.

To quote Luke and Matthew, albeit in a different context, the harvest is plentiful but laborers are few, at least for the time being.  Feel free to drop me a note anytime if your labor happens to be in the same field.

A smaller and newer interest of mine is interpreting the Vietnam War through the lens of the classics.   What does the troubled history of land reform in divided Vietnam have to do with the Gracchi Brothers in Plutarch? What could be similar between the “boat people” crisis on the one hand and the Aeneid on the other hand?  In some ways, this more recent interest is a culmination of my life-long engagement in reading and the humanities.