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Living in the Sacraments: Catholic Culture in Contemporary Vietnam -- A Phenomenon to be Studied

10383 Bunche Hall
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

The first exhibition featuring Vietnamese Catholics was held from December 10, 2008 to June 10, 2009 at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi. The theme of this exhibition was “Catholic culture as an intrinsic part of Vietnamese culture.” The exhibition was organized by a State-run museum against a background of difficult relations between the State and Catholics. This talk explores how the exhibition was conceived and how the ideas of the curators were implemented by examining negotiations among different stakeholders involved in the exhibition. 

Nguyen Van Huy was the founding director of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (1995-2006), the innovative exhibitions of which earned national and international acclaim. As early as 1960s, young ethnologist Nguyen enthusiastically took part in field trips of the Vietnam Institute of Ethnology (VIE) to remote and mountainous areas bordering China and Laos, surveying then little known ethnic minority groups. In the 1980s, while working toward the completion of a Ph.D. in Ethnology (1988, at the VIE), Nguyen pioneered a new direction in ethnological research, using a sociological approach.

Leading colleagues to conduct the first sociological surveys of ethnic groups across the country, Nguyen directed his interests to contemporary issues of socio-economic development of ethnic minorities and ethnic relations. These years of grounded experience with, solid scholarly insights of and deep concerns for the minorities formed a core of Nguyen’s advocacy for local voices through his new adventure as the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology's Director.

Nguyen is an author of approximately 60 journal articles and more than 10 books, among which Faces, Voices and Lives: Experience of a Director in Building a Museum for Communities (The gioi Publisher, Hanoi, 2008) and Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind and Spirit (co-edited with Laurel Kendall, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2004).

For his contributions to the preservation cultural heritage and enrichment of local daily life, Nguyen received Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (République Française, 2007), Aid to Artisans Award (2002), and Rockefeller 3rd Award (Asian Culture Council, 1999). He is currently an independent scholar and consultant on issues of ethnicity, cultures, and education.

Cost : Free and open to the public.


Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies

14 Apr 10
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

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