Performing and preserving memories: vernacular photographs in the South Vietnamese diaspora
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 14:51 authored by Julia Trúc Hạ Huỳnh
This thesis explores how photographs from 1980-1995 of the South Vietnamese diasporic community in Orange County, California communicate selective ideas about exilic identity and memory following the militarized migration of this refugee community fleeing war. Focusing on two case studies drawn from photographs included in the Paul Tran Files and the Project Ngọc Records, the thesis investigates the (in)visible desires of the community and how such desires are (re)produced and mediated through images. Vernacular photographs of commemorative events produced by the community are crucial to our understanding of the visual tropes used to anchor the Vietnamese diasporic identity. Additionally, the photographs themselves function as a means of contesting nation building and for intergenerational transmission of memory. Just as importantly, an examination of the photographs’ multi-temporal and serial qualities reveals how youth are culturally disciplined through the gendered labour of memory keeping.