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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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Upcoming Events: 

WEBINAR: February 21, 2023

5:00 AM Los Angeles​ - 1:00 PM London - 9:00 PM Singapore


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.  



Tuan Hoang is associate professor at Pepperdine University (USA) and coordinator of the Global Vietnamese Catholicism project under ISAC.

Zoom link will be sent to registrants: 

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Past Events: 

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. 

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