Cf. British Library Announcement
View: — ISSI Archive Page,
— 喃學 Nôm Studies Page.
Hundreds of thousands of documents exist in Nôm, the ideographic "national script" used in Vietnam for over 1,000 years since the country's independence from China in 939 AD. These fragile documents — in literature, medicine, drama, music, court records, philosophy, royal proclamations and village records and maps — are of inestimable historical value, providing a main source of written records of the history and culture of Vietnam for 10 centuries. However, after more than 125 years of warfare, and hundreds of years of monsoons, pillage, and neglect, these invaluable documents are in danger of being lost forever. The preservation of the Nôm heritage of Vietnam is a desperate race against time.
The Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture, and Society at Temple University has received a major project grant from the British Library to help save these endangered archives. Working with the Institute of Social Science Information (ISSI) in Hanoi, Vietnam, the Center will create a digital catalogue of an important source of Nôm documents, the 20,000 volume archive of Nôm documents left behind in 1954 by the École Française d'Extrême Orient. In addition to cataloguing the entire collection, the Temple/ISSI team will identify 1,200 of the most vulnerable documents and produce high quality digital photographs of each document. The team will make the entire catalogue and the photographs of the preserved documents available on the Center's website, with mirrored access available at the ISSI website and a digital repository housed at the British Library in London. The project will therefore not only preserve this priceless collection but make it freely available to students and research scholars worldwide.
The Temple team will be led by Dr. Ngô Thanh Nhàn, a Research Fellow at the Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture, and Society. Dr. Nhàn, who holds a Ph.D. in linguistics and has been working as a computational linguist at New York University, is an expert in Vietnamese language and culture. Dr. Nhàn has been working on several cultural, educational, and research projects with the Center. In January Dr. Nhàn received the Diploma of Merit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam for exemplary achievements in the protection of the national cultural heritage of Vietnam. Dr. Nhàn will be assisted by Dr. Ho Si Quy, Director of the ISSI, Dr. Philip Alperson, Director of the Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture, and Society, and Dr. Sophie Quinn-Judge, Associate Director of the Center.
Founded in September 2004, The Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture, and Society at Temple University is a national center for scholarly research, educational training, and mutual understanding. The Center houses a research library and sponsors a range of programs on Vietnam's rich heritage of philosophy and culture including conferences, colloquia, classes, and courses in the Vietnamese language. The Center also coordinates scholarly and educational visits and collaborations with universities and research centers in Vietnam. Among its programs are a research initiative in visual anthropology to produce documentary films about ethnic minority cultures in Vietnam led by Temple anthropologist Dr. Jayasinhji Jhala, a faculty exchange program in American Studies and Higher Education led by Temple English Professor Dr. Miles Orvell and Temple Sociology Professor Dr. Kimberly Goyette, a program in contemporary philosophy led by Temple philosopher Philip Alperson, an internship bringing a Temple student to study media in Vietnam, and a scholarship program bringing musicians from the National Conservatory of Music in Hanoi to study at the Boyer School at Temple.
The Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture, and Society has received support from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Wes Benson Foundation, the Fulbright Association, the Center for Educational Exchange with Vietnam, and the College of Liberal Arts and the Office of the Vice-President for Research at Temple University.
For further information on the Center's activities, please visit the Center's website.