During the colonial period, particularly in the 1920s, Vietnamese intellectuals frequently debated Rabindranath Tagore’s Greater Indian, pan-Asian vision in their political exchanges. Drawing on scholarship on the rise of an Indian Ocean public sphere, this article analyzes periodicals covering Tagore in colonial Vietnam in order to explore alternative and less researched trajectories of contemporary Vietnamese nationalism. Specifically, it examines media coverage of Tagore’s works, ideas, personality, and appearance, and, in particular, his visit to Sài Gòn in 1929, to answer the question of how those depictions reflected and shaped different anticolonial imaginaries and ideological debates at the time. Radical and moderate forms of Vietnamese nationalism reflected both appreciation and criticism of Tagore’s views of Indian nationhood. The engagement of both moderate and radical Vietnamese intellectuals with Tagore’s work was thus an important early moment in the turn of Vietnamese intellectuals away from colonial models of nationalism toward those articulated by other colonized populations.
Beyond the Indian Ocean Public Sphere: Vietnamese Reception of Rabindranath Tagore and Anticolonial Thought
Chi P. Pham, PhD, is a tenured researcher at the Institute of Literature, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Hà Nội. She is currently an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Asian and African Studies, University of Hamburg, Germany. She has published articles in Vietnamese and English on Indian literature, the Indian diaspora in Vietnam, literature and nationalism, and ecocriticism. This research was funded by Vietnam National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED) under grant number 602.06-2020.300.
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Chi P. Pham; Beyond the Indian Ocean Public Sphere: Vietnamese Reception of Rabindranath Tagore and Anticolonial Thought. Journal of Vietnamese Studies 1 May 2021; 16 (2): 60–83. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/vs.2021.16.2.60
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