The French scholar-polemicist Paul Mus has been widely but misleadingly portrayed as a colonial thinker whose knowledge of Buddhist and Sanskritic cosmologies was deployed to produce representations of Vietnamese and other Asians as slaves of agentless cultural models based on principles of divine mandate or heavenly will. But, focusing on the distinctive ways in which the themes of political action, historicity, and psychically dynamic selfhood pervaded Mus' writings on Vietnamese anticolonialism, this essay situates his work in a context far removed from the stereotype of the conventional Orientalist.

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