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February 02, 2011

Friday at Noon: Charles Keith 2/11/11

Center for Southeast Asian Studies Public Lecture Series
12:00 – 1:30 pm EDT [UTC/GMT -4 hours]
1636 SSWB/International Institute
1080 S. University, Ann Arbor MI
This talk will be webcast live.
For more information and instructions, please email cseas@umich.edu
Free and open to the public

Charles Keith
Michigan State University
‘National Religion’ and its Others in Colonial Vietnam

This paper explores the connections between modern sectarian identity and colonial policy in Vietnam. During the 1920s and 1930s, Vietnamese intellectuals advancing a unitary, orthodox vision of Vietnamese religion found common cause with colonial officials attracted by this vision's conservative and hierarchical message. This paper explores the effects of this development on the Catholic community, one with a long and fraught history in Vietnam. It argues that the spread of a canonical understanding of national civilization and tradition, through state-sponsored cultural projects and curricula as well as religious writings, had a paradoxical effect. While the importance of colonial policy in supporting and disseminating these ideas intensified growing rifts between Catholics and the French, the ideas were also a principal source for growing understandings of Catholics as culturally and politically exterior to Vietnamese nationhood. The paper concludes with a brief consideration of the effects of this on the place of Catholics in revolutionary politics and on post-colonial sectarian relations.

Posted by katemw at February 2, 2011 01:48 PM

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