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How gender shapes cultural production in Viet Nam and its diaspora

Treacherous Subjects

Gender, Culture, and Trans-Vietnamese Feminism

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Lan P. Duong

A title in the American Literatures Initiative.

"Duong's Treacherous Subjects inaugurates sui generis the field of diasporic Vietnamese feminism. She instructs us what objects and subjects to look at and study, how they might be comprehended, and why such inquiry is so crucial for all of us. I can't think of another cultural studies project in a decade that has accomplished so much in one book. Duong's careful consideration of both filmic and literary genres demonstrates her explicatory erudition. Treacherous Subjects is a monumental work upon which a generation of future students and scholars will build. It will establish Duong as the principal intellectual figure of the field she will have helped to establish."
James Kyung-Jin Lee, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Asian American Studies, University of California, Irvine

Treacherous Subjects is a provocative and thoughtful examination of Vietnamese films and literature viewed through a feminist lens. Lan Duong investigates the postwar cultural productions of writers and filmmakers, including Tony Bui, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Tran Anh Hung.

Taking her cue from the double meaning of "collaborator," Duong shows how history has shaped the loyalties and shifting alliances of the Vietnamese, many of whom are caught between opposing/constricting forces of nationalism, patriarchy, and communism. Working at home and in France and the United States, the artists profiled in Treacherous Subjects have grappled with the political and historic meanings of collaboration. These themes, which probe into controversial issues of family and betrayal, figure heavily in fictions such as the films The Scent of Green Papaya and Surname Viet Given Name Nam.

As writers and filmmakers collaborate, Duong suggests that they lay the groundwork for both transnational feminist politics and queer critiques of patriarchy.

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Excerpt

Read an excerpt from the Introduction (pdf).

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Reviews

"Treacherous Subjects offers a new reading of literary and filmic texts by Vietnamese and Vietnamese diasporics that rethinks the nation in its gendered, sexualized, and political economic representations. Duong argues that Vietnamese writers and filmmakers from Vietnam, France, and the U.S. evoke the family to imagine the body politic, which is now a transnational one. Duong's methods are very innovative. In each chapter, she pairs works by artists in different national contexts. Her approach allows for new ways to think through a number of issues with political import. I know of few books that put forth this reading which problematizes the nation and its heteronormative boundaries as effectively as this work does."
Nguyen-vo Thu-huong, Associate Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures, and Asian American Studies, UCLA

"[The book] makes a considerable and commendable contribution to the interdisciplinary fields of Asian-American literary studies, Southeast Asian-American studies, and American cultural studies.... Treacherous Subjects confirms and extends the field’s multidisciplinary vistas by way of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American cultural production, which include film, literature, and popular culture.... [It] skillfully juxtaposes the divergent critical receptions of such work vis-à-vis domestic and internationalist politics."
College Literature

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Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Manufacturing Feminine Virtue for the Diaspora: The Films of Tony Bui and Tran Anh Hung
2. Colonial Histories, Postcolonial Narratives: Traitors and Collaborators in Vietnamese Women’s Diasporic Literature
3. Heroines and Traitors: The Gendered Fictions of Đặng Nhật Minh and Dương Thư Hương
4. Traitors and Translators: Reframing Trinh T. Minh-ha’s Surname Viet Given Name Nam and A Tale of Love
5. Betraying Feminine Virtue: Collaborative Effects and the Transnational Circuits of Vietnamese Popular Culture
Conclusion: Family Politics and the Art of Collaboration
Notes
Works Cited
Index

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About the Author(s)

Lan P. Duong is Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside.

Subject Categories

Literature and Drama
Asian American Studies
Cultural Studies


In the series

Asian American History and Culture, edited by David Palumbo-Liu, K. Scott Wong, Linda Trinh Võ, and Cathy Schlund-Vials..

Founded by Sucheng Chan in 1991, the Asian American History and Culture, series has sponsored innovative scholarship that has redefined, expanded, and advanced the field of Asian American studies while strengthening its links to related areas of scholarly inquiry and engaged critique. Like the field from which it emerged, the series remains rooted in the social sciences and humanities, encompassing multiple regions, formations, communities, and identities. Extending the vision of founding editor Sucheng Chan and emeritus editor Michael Omi, series editors David Palumbo-Liu, K. Scott Wong, Linda Trinh Võ, and Cathy Schlund-Vials continue to develop a foundational collection that embodies a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to Asian American studies.

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