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The American Dream in Vietnamese

2011
Author:

Nhi T. Lieu

The American Dream in Vietnamese

Fantasy, desire, and community in Vietnamese American popular culture

The American Dream in Vietnamese examines how live music variety shows and videos, beauty pageants, and Web sites created by and for Vietnamese Americans contributed to the shaping of their cultural identity. Nhi T. Lieu shows how popular culture forms repositories for conflicting expectations of assimilation, cultural preservation, and invention, alongside gendered and classed dimensions of ethnic and diasporic identity.

Nhi T. Lieu insightfully demonstrates how important popular culture is to the self-fashioning of Vietnamese Americans. Her groundbreaking book validates what many Vietnamese Americans demonstrate in their everyday lives: that the pursuit of leisure and the rituals of entertainment are as crucial to community formation as political advancement and economic empowerment.

Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America

In her research on popular culture of the Vietnamese diaspora, Nhi T. Lieu explores how people displaced by war reconstruct cultural identity in the aftermath of migration. Embracing American democratic ideals and consumer capitalism prior to arriving in the United States, postwar Vietnamese refugees endeavored to assimilate and live the American Dream. In The American Dream in Vietnamese, she claims that nowhere are these fantasies played out more vividly than in the Vietnamese American entertainment industry.

Lieu examines how live music variety shows and videos, beauty pageants, and Web sites created by and for Vietnamese Americans contributed to the shaping of their cultural identity. She shows how popular culture forms repositories for conflicting expectations of assimilation, cultural preservation, and invention, alongside gendered and classed dimensions of ethnic and diasporic identity.

The American Dream in Vietnamese demonstrates how the circulation of images manufactured by both Americans and Vietnamese immigrants serves to produce these immigrants’ paradoxical desires. Within these desires and their representations, Lieu finds the dramatization of the community’s struggle to define itself against the legacy of the refugee label, a classification that continues to pathologize their experiences in American society.

The American Dream in Vietnamese

Nhi T. Lieu is assistant professor of American studies, Asian American studies, and women’s and gender studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

The American Dream in Vietnamese

Nhi T. Lieu insightfully demonstrates how important popular culture is to the self-fashioning of Vietnamese Americans. Her groundbreaking book validates what many Vietnamese Americans demonstrate in their everyday lives: that the pursuit of leisure and the rituals of entertainment are as crucial to community formation as political advancement and economic empowerment.

Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America

Lieu’s scholarly work is an important contribution to the field of Asian American studies. . . . Lieu’s work is further important because it delves into aspects of American and Vietnamese history that is often overlooked or purposefully forgotten due to the tenuous history of U.S.-Vietnamese relations. I highly suggest this book to those interested in the Vietnamese population or studying media forms as carriers of culture and identity.

Journal of Southeast Asian American Education & Advancement

Nhi T. Lieu makes a striking contribution to the study of Vietnamese American identity formation in The American Dream in Vietnamese, an ambitious study that uses an interdisciplinary approach to look at the role of popular culture in the social life of Vietnamese Americans and closely examines its impact on their identity.

Journal of Vietnamese Studies

Lieu brings a fresh, insightful perspective to the study of contemporary immigrants in general and Vietnamese Americans in particular.

CHOICE

Lieu takes a close look at cultural forms that have not previously been the focus of scholarly attention, such as variety shows and beauty pageants.

The Plaid Bag Connection

Lieu brings a fresh, insightful perspective to the study of contemporary immigrants in general and Vietnamese Americans in particular.

CHOICE

The American Dream in Vietnamese is a critically valuable intervention within the field of Vietnamese American studies, not merely within contexts of the Vietnam War and its memorial afterlife, but also within larger debates in Asian American representations related to ethnicity, immigration, gender, class, and the continual reconfiguration of recently (dis)integrated individual, political, and national selves.

The Journal of American Studies

The American Dream in Vietnamese

Introduction: Private Desires on Public Display
1. Assimilation and Ambivalence: Legacies of U.S. Military Intervention
2. Vietnamese by Other Means: The Overlapping Diasporas of Little Saigon
3. Pageantry and Nostalgia: Beauty Contests and the Gendered Homeland
4. Consuming Transcendent Media: Videos, Variety Shows, and the New Middle Class
Conclusion: Transnational Flows between the Diaspora and the Homeland
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index