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The Vietnamese diaspora had existed long before 1975—and did diasporic Vietnamese Catholics. The fall of Saigon, however, propelled an unprecedented number of Catholics into resettlement in North America, Europe, Australia, and other regions of the world. Simultaneously, the Church in Vietnam, itself with divergent experiences between north and south during national division and warfare, struggled mightily to survive in the aftermath of the end of the Vietnam War. Yet by the late 1980s, relations between church and state began to improve and eventually led to many interactions among Catholics in Vietnam and the diaspora. Woven into this complicated history were many complexities about Catholicism in Vietnamese society that went back to colonial and pre-colonial eras.

Given this background, this research project seeks to study Catholicism in Vietnam as well as the diaspora. Each is of course distinct from the other—and different parts of the diaspora distinct still from one another. Many subject matters, therefore, should be studied within the local context, be it Vietnam or another country. At the same time, it is hard to disregard the global character of Vietnamese Catholicism, whose diasporic manifestations reflect influences of the Vietnamese Church as well as adaptations to countries where Catholic immigrants and refugees had come. There have been too many transpacific experiences and interactions among Catholics that merit attention from scholars.

Among the subject matters that the project seeks to study:

  •  Festivals and pilgrimages

  •  Women in diasporic Catholic communities

  •  Catholic Action and the modern associational culture

  •  Catholic communities as instruments of social mobility

  •  The leadership of religious orders: past and present

  •  Transpacific ties among dioceses in Vietnam and the diaspora

Project Coordinator: Tuan Hoang

To be informed about events related to this research project: 

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Launching Event: 10 Aug. 2022

This online event discussed the current state of academic research on Global Vietnamese Catholicism.  

Researchers Anh Q. TranYuqing DuLân NgôClaire Thị Liên Trần and Tuan Hoang presented their work on Vietnamese Catholics around the world to discuss significant patterns and on-going transformations. Elaborating on a special issue that they have recently published through the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, this event also searched to identify potential conversations and scholarly collaborations to develop in the future. 

Webinar 1: February 21, 2023


The Way of the Fortress:

Catholics and Political Engagement in the Republic of Vietnam, 1964-1967



Bùi Chí Thiện (Thien Bui) is a student in the master's program of Vietnamese History at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH VNU-HCM). His work focuses on Catholics in the Republic of Vietnam, and he has done research at the Vietnamese National Archives II in Ho Chi Minh City.



Sean Fear is a faculty member at University of Leeds (UK) and serves as lecturer in international history at the School of History. His publications have appeared in Diplomatic History and the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, among others. His forthcoming monograph, which is under contract with Harvard University Press, explores and analyzes political legitimacy (and lack of) in the Republic of Vietnam. Dr. Fear has also co-edited the volume The Republic of Vietnam, 1955-1975 Vietnamese Perspectives on Nation Building. 

Van Nguyen-Marshall is associate professor in history at Trent University (Canada) and has researched about voluntary organizations in twentieth-century Vietnam. Her first monograph, In Search of Moral Authority, is about poor relief and charity in colonial Vietnam. Her second, forthcoming from Cornell University Press, is Between War and the State: Civil Society in South Vietnam, 1954–1975. She has co-edited The Reinvention of Distinction: Modernity and the Middle Class in Urban Vietnam, and is currently serving as a co-editor of the Journal of Vietnamese Studies.  

Webinar 2: April 11, 2023 


The Ethics of Sacrifice:

Marriage and Women in an Urban Catholic Community of Ho Chi Minh City


Yuqing Du is assistant professor at the Institute of Humanities, ShanghaiTech University. She received her PhD from SOAS, University of London in 2019. Her article, "Reconfiguring Inculturations: Hội Đồng Tứ Giáo and Interfaith Dialogues in Eighteenth-Century Vietnam," appears in a special issue on Vietnamese Catholicism in the Journal of Vietnamese Studies (2022). 


Tine Gammeltoft is professor in the Department of Anthropology at University of Copenhagen. She has published widely on kinship, family, mental health, and diabetes in Vietnam, among other subjects. Her publications include Haunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam (University of California Press, 2014).

Rowena Robinson is professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay. She has focused her research on the sociology of religion and kinship, conversion, and Christianity in India. Among her publications are Boundaries of Religion: Essays on Christianity, ethnic conflict and violence (Oxford University Press, 2013); and Christians of India (Sage Publications, 2003).

Webinar 3: May 9, 2023 


Bắc Di Cư in the Diaspora:

Mapping a Vietnamese Catholic Refugee Identity


Joseph Loreto Phúc Nguyễn received his master's degree in the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University, with a concentration in Vietnamese studies. Joseph's research interests include transnational history, Vietnamese refugee community formation, and Vietnamese Catholicism in the diaspora. Currently, Joseph is teaching in Vietnam as a part of the Fulbright ETA Program under the U.S. Department of State. Joseph is also a curriculum writer for the K-12 Vietnamese American Refugee American Curriculum under the Orange County and Santa Clara Departments of Education. 


Anita Casavantes Bradford is an Professor of Chicano/Latino Studies and History at the University of California Irvine, where she also serves as Co-Director of the UC-Cuba Multi Campus Academic Initiative. She has published two monographs with the University of North Carolina Press: The Revolution is for the Children: The Politics of Childhood in Havana and Miami, 1959-1962 (2014); and Suffer the Little Children: Child Migration and the Geopolitics of Compassion in the United States (2022). Her articles and essays have appeared in Diplomatic History, Journal of American Ethnic History, Latin American Research Review, Cuban Studies, U.S. Catholic Historian, and the Journal of the Society for History of Children and Youth, among others.

Phi Vân Nguyen is an Associate Professor in History at the Université de Saint-Boniface in Winnipeg, Canada. She specializes in war, migration, and modern Vietnam. Her research has appeared in French Colonial History, The Journal of Asian Studies, and the collection Refugees and Religion: Ethnographic Studies of Global Trajectories (Bloomsbury, 2021), among other publications.

Webinar 4: May 30, 2023

Evolution of a Hybrid Typology:

Catholic Churches in Huế


Phi Yen Nguyen is a practicing architect and is finishing her doctoral degree in the Lab of Urbanism, The Doctoral Program Architecture and Sciences of the City (EDAR) at EPFL, and Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD-Genève). She holds a Master in Architecture from Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor of Arts (valedictorian, summa cum laude) from Berea College, USA. Phi is a fellow in Huế team within the research project Site and Space in Southeast Asia, organized by the University of Sydney and supported by the Getty Foundation's Connecting Art Histories Initiative. Phi has experiences working in both art/ design practice and research from design firms and institutions such as the Harvard Art Museums (Boston, U.S.A), Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (New York, U.S.A.), Kengo Kuma and Associates (Tokyo, Japan), GUND Partnership (Boston), the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis Program (Sardis, Turkey). She is the co-founder and principal of design practice atelier NgNg whose works have been published internationally. She also founded and coordinated 'về Huế,' a research and exhibition project about local architectural heritage in Huế city, Vietnam, which received a grant from the Graham Foundation (2018-2019).


Peter Carl is emeritus professor of architecture at University of Cambridge, where he taught graduate design and history and philosophy of architecture for 30 years. He also established the PhD Program in Architecture at London Metropolitan University, and held positions at University of Kentucky and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He has published on topics such as ornament, nature and culture, the phenomenology of architecture and the city, and the concept of the sacred in architecture. Since retirement, he has lectured and published on diverse topics and is presently researching the contribution of architectural and urban metabolism to practical wisdom. 

Caroline Heberlin is an assistant professor at University of Toulouse and has been teaching regularly in the US in various positions since 2016. She is currently the field director for the Huế team in the project Site and Space in Southeast Asia. Her book Architectures du Vietnam Colonial was published in France by INHA/CTHS and won the 2017 Alf Andrew Heggoy Prize. It examines the diversity of cultural exchanges embodied in the built environment thereby moving beyond analyses equating architecture with colonial power. She focuses on the way the Vietnamese appropriated and created the build environment during the colonial period. She is currently working on a social history of art in colonial Vietnam, focusing on the history of private collections, exhibitions, and art institutions as well as exploring the way arts and handicrafts were used and framed in colonial policies. In addition to several articles and book chapters on art and architecture in Vietnam and colonial culture, she has also co-edited a collection of essays on Vietnamese art and a catalogue about French Indochina for an exhibition held in 2013 at the Army Museum in Paris.

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