This article focuses on the emergence of the youth Christian workers movement in Tonkin during the decisive decade before the Vietnamese Revolution (1935–1945). It explores the spread of the social doctrines and associational forms of the global Catholic Action movement among Vietnamese Catholics in a colonial context. How were these new forms of militancy disseminated among the Vietnamese Catholic communities, both clergy and laity? To what extent were Catholic youth mobilized by these perspectives of living their faith beyond the borders of their parish and its “good deeds”? An analysis of the Thanh Lao Công (TLC) or Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne (JOC) [Young Christian Workers] in the three major northern cities—Hà Nội, Hải Phòng, and Nam Định—illustrates the adaptation of global Catholic ideas and organizations in a Vietnamese context. It shows the attempts of major figures to enact reforms within the Vietnamese church regarding economic and social transformations at the end of the 1930s. It highlights the initiative of the TLC’s young Vietnamese leaders who seized the opportunity of the promotion of youth movements during the Vichy period and participated in social and political debates in a context of nationalist turmoil.
Thanh Lao Công [Young Christian Workers] in Tonkin, 1935–1945: From Social to Political Activism
Claire Thị Liên Trần is Associate Professor at the Department of History, Université Paris Cité, and specializes in the history of Southeast Asia. She is also a member of CESSMA (Centre for Social Science Studies on the African, American, and Asian Worlds). She would like to express her deepest thanks to Claude Nguyễn and Michèle Herbert Nguyễn, the daughters of Nguyễn Mạnh Hà, for giving me consent to use the pictures of their father for this article and to Tuan Hoang and Charles Keith for their editing and valuable feedback on an earlier draft of this article.
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Claire Thị Liên Trần; Thanh Lao Công [Young Christian Workers] in Tonkin, 1935–1945: From Social to Political Activism. Journal of Vietnamese Studies 1 August 2022; 17 (2-3): 93–125. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/vs.2022.17.2-3.93
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