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Little Saigons

Little Saigons: Staying Vietnamese in America

Karin Aguilar–San Juan
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Little Saigons
    Book Description:

    With a comparative and race-cognizant approach, Karin Aguilar-San Juan shows how places like Little Saigon and Fields Corner are sites for the simultaneous preservation and redefinition of Vietnamese identity. Intervening in debates about race, ethnicity, multiculturalism, and suburbanization as a form of assimilation, she elaborates on the significance of place as an integral element of community building and its role in defining Vietnamese American-ness.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7030-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Introduction Where Does Viet Nam End and America Begin?
    (pp. xi-xxxii)

    LITTLE SAIGONSEXAMINES THE ROLE OF PLACE in generating and supporting Vietnamese American community and identity. Because Vietnamese refugees fled their homeland and then immediately upon their arrival to U.S. shores in 1975 were purposefully dispersed across all fifty states by federal resettlement agencies, their subsequent congregation in just a few metropolitan regions poses many interesting questions about the relationship between place and community for refugees and immigrants.¹ I focus on Vietnamese American community-building and place-making in two distinct regions on opposite sides of the United States: Orange County, California and Boston, Massachusetts. In those places as in others, Vietnamese...

  4. Chapter 1 Producing and Constructing Vietnamese America
    (pp. 1-36)

    BECAUSE OF THE STRONG INTERESTS of the U.S. government in receiving and resettling Vietnamese refugees, there is no shortage of raw statistics or other social scientific data about their migration and settlement patterns, nor is there a paucity of social scientific commentary on the nature and pace of their assimilation into the American mainstream. In this chapter I cull the key facts about the end of the war and the implementation of refugee programs, patterns of migration and settlement within the United States, and the emergence of—and diversity within—various communities. I frame these facts in terms of a...

  5. Chapter 2 Q: Nationality? A: Asian.
    (pp. 37-60)

    STAYING VIETNAMESE occurs on, and against, racialized terrain. In this chapter I focus on themes of race and racialization—and, by implication, the unmarked norm of whiteness—as they impact Vietnamese American social life. By making “race” an explicit component of my analysis and interpretation of Vietnamese American community-building and placemaking in Orange County and Boston, I bring to the foreground issues that have not been analyzed in prior scholarship on Vietnamese Americans: among these are the racialization of the war in Viet Nam, the impact of the presence of ethnic Chinese in Vietnamese American places, and the relationship between...

  6. Chapter 3 Like a Dream I Can Never Forget: Remembering and Commemorating the Past
    (pp. 61-90)

    STAYING VIETNAMESE requires a strategic and purposeful encounter not only with race and racialization, but also with the past. In many important ways, Vietnamese American community-building and place-making looks backward in time in order to confront racism in the present, to recuperate a sliver of Vietnamese nationalism, and to orient the next generations toward an Americanized future.¹ By giving the past—in the form of personal and collective memories and histories—a privileged place in this chapter, I do not mean to reanimate the stereotype of the sad, aging Vietnamese refugee who is psychologically and emotionally trapped in the pre-1975...

  7. Chapter 4 What’s Good for Business Is Good for the Community: Packaging and Selling Vietnamese America
    (pp. 91-122)

    MARKETPLACE MULTICULTURALISM consists of a discourse and a set of policies and practices that link the global capitalist economy to the sociospatial terrain out of which Vietnamese America emerges. Imposed from “above” civil society, marketplace multiculturalism may be understood as a state-sponsored directive whose intention is to manage, control, and take advantage of recent transformations in global capitalism, including refugee migration due to war and the expansion of international markets.¹ Across the uneven spaces of development that result from the capitalist production of space in the United States, marketplace multiculturalism installs pockets of “difference” to attract tourism, to boost real...

  8. Chapter 5 Implications for Community and Place
    (pp. 123-156)

    MORE THAN THREE DECADES after the “shock of arrival,” Vietnamese refugees, immigrants, and their U.S.–born children have transformed themselves from unexpected strangers to familiar, and often celebrated, ethnic minorities.¹ Mainstream social scientists and policy makers have analyzed meticulously the pace and character of Vietnamese assimilation, pointing to their positive inclination to vote, speak English, take up white-collar professions, and move to the suburbs.² Looking for the mechanisms by which Vietnamese have been able to advance themselves in the absence of larger structural opportunities, researchers have focused on the significance of “ethnic” community ties, trust, geographic concentration, and in the...

  9. Conclusion How Do You Stay Vietnamese in America?
    (pp. 157-160)

    I WENT TO VIET NAM TWICE IN 2006: first in January on a group tour, and a second time in November by myself and as part of a longer personal journey that concluded in the Philippines.

    During the first visit I joined a group of scholars, trade unionists, and Vietnam War–era peace activists made up primarily of North Americans but also including individuals from Ireland, Greece, and Palestine. Most of us were curious and concerned about the policies and practices that the government of Viet Nam has followed sincedoi moi,the series of economic reforms instituted in 1986....

  10. Appendix: Research and Methodology
    (pp. 161-166)
  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 167-170)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 171-186)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 187-200)
  14. Index
    (pp. 201-222)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-223)