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.
Since summer 2017, much of my research is about the exilic experience among Catholic refugees that came to the U.S. after the Fall of Saigon.
In addition archival materials in English, the primary sources employed in my research comes from noncommunist South Vietnamese and Vietnamese refugees 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.
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.
A smaller 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.