Mobility and the Transnational in Colonial Vietnam

AHA Session 177
Saturday, January 7, 2017: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Centennial Ballroom G (Hyatt Regency Denver, Third Floor)
Edward Miller, Dartmouth College
Edward Miller, Dartmouth College

Session Abstract

Vietnam’s colonial period was an age of mobility: the development of the steam ship, the laying of railway lines, the invention of the telegraph, and the diffusion of the printing press all allowed people, objects, and ideas to circulate in new ways.  This panel explores the history of Vietnam’s transnational mobility in an age of European empire.  Mobility at different scales constituted the local, the national, the regional, and the global modern.  Steamships brought travelers from Europe to Indochina and took Vietnamese to Europe.  Officials from French Indochina studied colonial policy and practice in the Netherlands East Indies.  The telegraph carried news between Saigon and Hanoi and across the world.  Newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets and books transmitted new ideas in Chinese, Japanese, French, and Vietnamese.  Vietnamese intellectuals elaborated new concepts, such as “proletarian,” “historical materialism,” “dialectic,” and “class” in their own language for the first time.  Deployed earnestly or with irony, these terms became the means to create powerful new critiques of French colonial rule.  By tracing the circulation of people, objects, and ideas, this panel interrogates the role of the transnational in producing colonial Vietnam’s unfinished modernity.
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