Carving out a place for myself in academia has culminated to something I’ll label here as establishing a subdiscipline of Vietnamese intellectual history. Intellectual history, which comes from a European tradition, has predominantly focused on ideas in relation to philosophy, reserved for erudites distanced from the masses. Only more recently has ‘global intellectual history’ emerged to valorize different sources of epistemological contribution around the world, to encourage new perspectives and connections. In the case of Vietnam, so much of Vietnamese intellectual activity (at least in the modern context) is inextricable to nationalism, cultural exchange, societal transformations. At the core of major on-the-ground transitions is in fact a negotiation and discussion of ideas both from within and without. If we return to this fundamental understanding of intellectual history, as the interpretation, circulation and transformation of ideas, then we are able to see how Vietnam’s intellectual activity offers an understanding of intellectual history that is integral to the making and shaping of social and political history.

Join us for a conversation that uses Martina Nguyen’s latest book On Our Own Strength as a point of departure for a larger conversation of what such a subdiscipline would look like.