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The American Dream in Vietnamese

The American Dream in Vietnamese

Nhi T. Lieu
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    The American Dream in Vietnamese
    Book Description:

    The American Dream in Vietnamese examines how live music variety shows and videos, beauty pageants, and Web sites created by and for Vietnamese Americans contributed to the shaping of their cultural identity. Nhi T. Lieu shows how popular culture forms repositories for conflicting expectations of assimilation, cultural preservation, and invention, alongside gendered and classed dimensions of ethnic and diasporic identity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7671-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction: Private Desires on Public Display
    (pp. ix-xxviii)

    More than three decades have passed since the fall of Saigon, but the jarring wordsViet Namstill haunt many Americans. Known as the unforgettable war lost by the United States, “Viet Nam” was not regarded by the popular media as a nation in its own right. Torn by political conflicts that unleashed massive confusion and tragedy upon its own people, the besieged country was seen as an unfathomable quagmire that divided the American nation and continues to resonate darkly in America’s historical memory, especially in light of our contemporary involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the Vietnamese refugees and...

  4. Chapter 1 Assimilation and Ambivalence: Legacies of U.S. Military Intervention
    (pp. 1-26)

    The conflict in Vietnam was one of the most brutal and destructive wars fought between Western imperial powers and the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. During the Cold War, both sides used the killing in Vietnam as an object lesson for their cause. More modern weapons technology came into use in the Southeast Asian peninsula than anywhere in the history of warfare up to that point. Toxic herbicides and chemicals poisoned water, land, and air while explosives maimed bodies and decimated local civilian populations. The war physically seared Vietnamese bodies and psychologically imprinted their minds with horror, rage,...

  5. Chapter 2 Vietnamese by Other Means: The Overlapping Diasporas of Little Saigon
    (pp. 27-58)

    When american troops withdrew from Vietnam and surrendered the capital city of Saigon to communist forces on April 30, 1975, the defeat of the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government left an indelible mark on the Vietnamese people who subsequently had to flee their fallen homeland. Losing their nation to enemies they had fought fiercely against was a haunting experience that prompted a collective search for alternative visions that could mitigate their tremendous losses. Upon arriving in the United States and in other asylum-granting countries, the Vietnamese refugees sought ways to negotiate their discontent and displacement. From nostalgia and a deep sense...

  6. Chapter 3 Pageantry and Nostalgia: Beauty Contests and the Gendered Homeland
    (pp. 59-78)

    Beauty contests may appear frivolous and trivial, but as a cultural practice they stage complex struggles over power and representation. Some feminists have argued that beauty contests are ideological regimes that reinforce dominant constructions of gender and idealized forms of femininity. Yet these organized events are much more complicated than just outright attempts to objectify, control, and commodify women’s bodies. Scholars of beauty pageants have begun to bring forth the contradictions inherent in the beauty contest by situating them in multiple systems of culture, struggles for power and control, and discursive fields of practice.¹ While many have located beauty pageants...

  7. Chapter 4 Consuming Transcendent Media: Videos, Variety Shows, and the New Middle Class
    (pp. 79-114)

    The eyes of the sphinx glimmer in a night filled with shining stars as dancers dressed in “Egyptian” costumes move their hands in a serpentine fashion. A contemporary tune plays against this “ancient” backdrop as Vietnamese American singing sensation Thien Kim enters the scene, reclining on a chaise carried by male servants. Made up to look like an Egyptian princess, Thien Kim is dressed in robes and adorned with gold jewelry. Her performance of a song entitled “Doi Em Nhu Cat Kho” (“My Life Is Like Dry Sand”) commences as she alights from her chaise and walks across...

  8. Conclusion: Transnational Flows Between the Diaspora and the Homeland
    (pp. 115-134)

    When the united states lifted economic sanctions against Vietnam in the mid-1990s, it was inevitable that cultural products from the communist nation would enter American soil. Popular culture, particularly music and audiovisual media, filtering in from an invigorated Vietnam caused a rift between two generations of Vietnamese Americans. TheLos Angeles Timesdescribed it accordingly:

    To young Vietnamese Americans, it’s the hottest music around. To older generations, it’s nothing more than Communist propaganda. And to a Little Saigon music industry once hailed as ‘the Vietnamese Nashville,’ it could spell doom . . . The shift in taste is emerging as...

  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 135-140)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 141-170)
  11. Index
    (pp. 171-186)