at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Spirit Writing in Colonial Viet Nam: The Role of a Folk Religion in the Emergence of Modern Vietnamese Nationalism


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September 28, 12:00 p.m.
Presented by Professor Liam C. Kelley, University of Hawai′i at Mānoa

At the turn of the twentieth century, members of the scholarly elite in Viet Nam began to engage in a practice which they had always scorned–spirit possession. They did so in a radical attempt to deal with the trauma of the French conquest and control of their land. In the process, some of the messages and ideas that they received from spirits at the time would serve to bolster nationalist sentiments that were emerging at that time. This talk will examine the origins of this movement, and then will look at the actual spirit writing phenomenon and its connections with modern Vietnamese nationalism.


Liam Kelley is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Hawai′i at Mānoa. His focus lies on Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Thai history, The Sino-Vietnamese Cultural Relationship, and Modern Southeast Asian History.