Session Abstract: The colonial world in Vietnam rested on terrain where identities were fashioned and re-fashioned in attempts to salvage imminent losses of territory, cultural identity and profit. Tran Thi Phuong Hoa's paper explores Vietnamese scholars' attempts to convince the French colonial administration that Imperial Japan posed a real threat to the Paracel Islands, an archipelago to which the Nguyen Dynasty had laid claims. Bound by treaties and unwilling to jeopardize trade with China, France's inaction revealed not only contrasting Vietnamese and French perceptions of diplomacy, but also France's inability to conceptualize the spatial and territorial nature of Vietnamese identity, a national geography which included the Paracels. Guy Dondo's examination of Vietnamese intellectuals' analyses of Gandhian philosophy and anti-colonial strategies, sheds light on a quest for an Asian solution to regain political autonomy. Convinced that Gandhi's success lay in his ability to design his movement by grounding it clearly in Indian culture, Vietnamese intellectuals focused on the ways in which cultural roots and modernity could together evolve into a mass movement that could both define and achieve Vietnamese independence. Micheline Lessard's paper traces French colons' attempts to increase their profits by eliminating Chinese economic rivalry in Vietnam. Campaigns to convince the colonial administration to expel the Chinese often relied upon the colons' impressionist constructions of both Vietnamese and Chinese identities as well as the fiction of French-Vietnamese common interests.
Paper Presenter: Micheline R. Lessard – University of Ottawa
Paper Presenter: Hoa Tran Thi Phuong – Institute of History (Vietnam)
Paper Presenter: Guy Dondo – University of Ottawa