This essay examines the controversial stories and implications of two memorials built in March 2005 by former boat people from Vietnam on Pulau Bidong (Malaysia) and on Pulau Galang (Indonesia) to commemorate the refugee exodus that ensued after the end of the Vietnam War (April 1975). Tracing the histories and analyzing the contents of these objects, this essay not only illuminates the intertwining social, cultural, political, economic, moral, and spiritual dimensions of contemporary diasporic Vietnamese commemorative practices, but also explains how and why these commemorative practices are entangled in local, national, international, and transnational dynamics and therefore have multilateral impacts.
Remembering the Boat People Exodus: A Tale of Two Memorials
Quan Tue Tran is a doctoral student in American Studies at Yale University. Earlier versions of this essay were presented at the Asian American Studies Working Group at Yale University (2012), the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference in Hawai'i (2011), and the Beyond Borders Conference-Workshop at the University of Washington, Seattle (2010). The author thanks Simeon Man, Sam Vong, Elizabeth Son, Chuong-Dai Vo, Mariam Lam, Mary Lui, Alicia Schmidt Camacho, Ben Kiernan, Kathryn Dudley, and especially Alexander Cannon for their comments and suggestions. Thanks also go to Christoph Giebel, Judith Henchy, Jack Yeager, and Mariam Lam for convening the stimulating Beyond Borders Conference-Workshop, where this essay found its first audience.
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Quan Tue Tran; Remembering the Boat People Exodus: A Tale of Two Memorials. Journal of Vietnamese Studies 1 August 2012; 7 (3): 80–121. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/vs.2012.7.3.80
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