National Association of Student Anthropologists
Since the migration of Vietnamese immigrants, the Vietnamese-American experience has caused many succeeding generations to feel torn by their internal and external social dynamics. This is portrayed through the contrasting identities these youths uphold in various spaces involving different social groups. I specifically chose southern California’s VSA (Vietnamese Student Association) as my field site to discover how cultural events and narratives are upheld by Americanised youth. This project seeks to reveal the many ways youths portray their Vietnamese community’s traditional beliefs and values while balancing with the standards regulated by the American society. Through academic research and field work, I apply some theoretical ideas I came across in my field site, like panopticism and social liberation, and generate an understanding of common practices many Vietnamese-Americans use to approach identity-construction. I looked into the performance, or lack thereof, of Vietnamese cultural identity in American spaces, but I also seek to break the binary between Vietnamese and American. I also looked at the Vietnamese-American’s position in relation to other Asian-American experiences, how certain members of my field site blend themselves into the general Asian-American youth community while still upholding distinguishing themselves as a Vietnamese-American. As a person born and raised in Vietnam, I use myself, and other VSA members who were raised in Vietnam, as a reference point to discuss the differences between a Vietnamese person and a Vietnamese-American person.