Special lecture: Giang Nguyen-Dien

Presentation Title: “Hận: On War, Vietnamese Refugee Melancholia, and the Challenges to Asian American Critiques”


In critical refugee studies scholarship, remembering is a political act of resistance against U.S. structural demand for refugees to forget, move on, and assimilate. However, the act of remembrance is not merely political but first and foremost emotional and existential. Therefore, the focus on the political aspect of memories risks erasing the raw emotional textures of refugee experiences that reveal the vulnerabilities of refugee lives, the transnational nature of their struggles, and the constraints of refugee resistance.In this talk, I will focus on one mode of feeling, hận (deep hatred and resentment), to uncover the transnational characteristic of Vietnamese refugees’ subject-formation, shaped by a tangled structure of violence committed by both Vietnam and the United States. Hận, born out of the grief of uprootedness and sedimented as refugee melancholia, reveals the haunt of war traumas that shapes the conflicted positionality of Vietnamese refugees as they were simultaneously wounded and rescued by U.S. empire. Through hận, I explore how Vietnamese refugees’ act of remembrance, while often regarded as an act of resistance against the double erasure of South Vietnam in both the US and Vietnamese public memories, entails a nuanced alignment with the US Cold War construction of its own moral and ideological superiority. As such, hận speaks to the challenges of decolonization politics in a world so saturated with oppression that the brutality of empire is flattened.


In-person or virtual (registration required for online attendance)

Dial-In Information


Tuesday, February 13 at 1:00 PM

Holmes Student Center, Capitol Room South
600 Lucinda Ave, DeKalb, IL 60115

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