at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Voices of the Southeast Asia Diaspora


Troubling Borders: An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora
Edited by Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Lan Duong, Mariam B. Lam, and Kathy L. Nguyen

Pairing image and text, Troubling Borders showcases creative writing and visual artworks by sixty-one women of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao, Thai, and Filipino ancestry. The collection features compelling storytelling that troubles the borders of categorization and reflects the multilayered experience of Southeast Asian women.

The diverse voices featured here have been shaped by colonization, wars, globalization, and militarization. For some of these women on the margins of the margin, crafting and showing their work is a bold act in itself. Their provocative and accessible creations tell unique stories, provide a sharp contrast to familiar stereotypes – Southeast Asian women as exotic sex symbols, dragon ladies, prostitutes, and “bar girls”-and serve as entry points for broader discussions on questions of history, memory, and identity.

Third place in the Association for Borderlands Studies Best Book Award
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From the Land of Shadows: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Cambodian Diaspora
Khatharya Um

In a century of mass atrocities, the Khmer Rouge regime marked Cambodia with one of the most extreme genocidal instances in human history. What emerged in the aftermath of the regime’s collapse in 1979 was a nation fractured by death and dispersal. It is estimated that nearly one-fourth of the country’s population perished from hard labor, disease, starvation, and executions. Another half million Cambodians fled their ancestral homeland, with over one hundred thousand finding refuge in America.

From the Land of Shadows surveys the Cambodian diaspora and the struggle to understand and make meaning of this historical trauma. Drawing on more than 250 interviews with survivors across the United States as well as in France and Cambodia, Khatharya Um places these accounts in conversation with studies of comparative revolutions, totalitarianism, transnationalism, and memory works to illuminate the pathology of power as well as the impact of auto-genocide on individual and collective healing. Exploring the interstices of home and exile, forgetting and remembering, From the Land of Shadows follows the ways in which Cambodian individuals and communities seek to rebuild connections frayed by time, distance, and politics in the face of this injurious history.

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Identity and Ethnic Relations in Southeast Asia: Racializing Chineseness
Chee-Kiong Tong

Modern nation states do not constitute closed entities. This is true especially in Southeast Asia, where Chinese migrants have continued to make their new homes over a long period of time, resulting in many different ethnic groups co-existing in new nation states. Focusing on the consequences of migration, and cultural contact between the various ethnic groups, this book describes and analyses the nature of ethnic identity and state of ethnic relations, both historically and in the present day, in multi-ethnic, pluralistic nation states in Southeast Asia. Drawing on extensive primary fieldwork in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, the book examines the mediations, and transformation of ethnic identity and the social incorporation, tensions and conflicts and the construction of new social worlds resulting from cultural contact among different ethnic groups.

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Memory Is Another Country: Women of the Vietnamese Diaspora
Nathalie Hyunh Chau Nguyen

The act of remembering is a means of bringing the past alive and an imaginative way of dealing with loss. It has been the subject of much recent scholarship and is of particular relevance at a time of widespread transnational migration. This book is a valuable and original contribution to the field of diaspora studies. Based on in-depth oral narratives of forty Vietnamese women, it deals with themes both universal and specific to this diaspora: divergent memories in families, the significance of homeland, the return to Vietnam, cross-cultural relationships, intergenerational tensions, and the issues of silence and unspoken trauma among Vietnamese refugees. It is the first study to apply memory and trauma theories to a substantial base of oral narratives by Vietnamese women in the West. Nguyen argues that understanding of these narratives provides not only an insight into the way Vietnamese women have dealt with loss, but also illuminates the experience of the wider Vietnamese diaspora and other refugees.

2010 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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