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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Embodiments of difference: Representations of Vietnamese women in the U.S. cultural imaginary
by Bui, Diem-My Thi, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008, 235; 3314969
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is about how the U.S.'s political and economic relationship with Vietnam produced and maintains a neocolonialist agenda through its media representations of Vietnamese women. This neocolonialist agenda began with the U.S. attempt to police global politics by intervening in the Vietnam civil war beginning in the mid-1950s and continued when in the early 1990s the U.S. normalized its relations with Vietnam in order to expand its economic interests there. Vietnamese women and their bodies are the conduits through which this agenda is communicated, facilitated, and maintained. I argue that a genealogical study of media representations of Vietnam since the Vietnam War period elucidates the heterogeneous discourses on Vietnamese women that are shaped by the shifting political, economic, and social relations. These heterogeneous discourses employ an Orientalist gaze and, thus, overlap across different historical periods and social contexts. Part of this Orientalist logic depends on the media texts' approach to Vietnamese women as objects for discovery of an authentic, yet mythic, past. Cultural production of these representations exist in different media, including news media, travel and tourist literature, generic literature, memoirs, film, and art. The images and texts on the women participate in larger discussions of embodiments of difference, the construction of cultural memory, the material consequences of those representations, and lived experience. Thus, this project tackles how cultural, economic, and political processes shape the social meanings of representations of Vietnamese women by U.S. media, of both Vietnamese descent and non-Vietnamese descent. Drawing on key U.S. news print media, travel literature, travel web sites, films, photographs, and performance artists, this project applies textual analysis, film analysis, and ethnography to study the meanings and practices produced on Vietnamese women and introduced into global circulation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Valdivia, Angharad
School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 69/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, Womens studies, Minority & ethnic groups, Sociology, Mass media
Keywords: Asian-American, Cultural imaginary, Cultural production, Gender, Media studies, Representation, United States, Vietnamese-American, Women
Publication Number: 3314969
ISBN: 978-0-549-65022-5
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