Culture and Customs of Vietnam

Culture and Customs of Vietnam

Culture and Customs of Vietnam

Culture and Customs of Vietnam

Synopsis

Vietnam is increasingly opening up to the West, and society is in flux between tradition and modernity, and socialism and capitalism. Americans have distanced themselves from the Vietnam War now, and Culture and Customs of Vietnam fills a need to learn about the country, which has also evolved. Readers will find that this is the only general book on Vietnamese culture in English written by specialists. McLeod and Nguyen, historians specializing in Vietnam engagingly show the various forces of Vietnamese culture in narrative chapters on the land, people, and language; history and institutions; thought and religion; literature; art and architecture; cuisine; family, marriage, gender, and youth culture; festivals and leisure activities, and performing arts.

Excerpt

CULTURE AND CUSTOMS OF VIETNAM is an exploration of Vietnamese culture as it developed from pre-colonial times until the present. Our motivation stems from the fact that the general reader, high school student, or undergraduate who wants an introduction to Vietnamese culture must choose between a plethora of works by nonspecialists that are often factually erroneous and works by Vietnam specialists that are narrowly focused, extremely detailed, and mainly concerned with theoretical issues of interest only to other scholars.

We have tried to write a survey of the basic features of Vietnamese culture that is factually accurate but clear in its presentation and limited to information that is likely to be useful for the general reader. We thus emphasize patterns common to the Vietnamese as a whole during the periods under consideration and do not always distinguish between regional variations or account for subtle changes over time. The view of Vietnamese culture that informs this work is that of the hybrid model. No distinction is made between [primordial] or [truly Vietnamese] cultural patterns and those that have been assimilated from Southeast Asians, Indians, Chinese, Mongols, Chams, French, or Americans. Just as a hybrid plant can no longer cast off its [foreign] elements, a Vietnamese culture stripped of its [foreign] borrowings would be unrecognizable as Vietnamese. Although it is worthwhile to explore the sources of particular beliefs or practices, one must remember that their foreign origins do not make them any less Vietnamese at present.

The work is based on original research using French and Vietnamese primary sources, the scholarly and popular literature in English, French, and . . .

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