Heritage and the Politics of Culture
How does heritage constitute our cultural identity transmitted through generations? To what extend does it inform our perception of a cultural environment? Those general questions related to the notions of identity and belonging are not fixed in time and space as illustrated by today’s refugee “crisis”. History has shown that displacements of people carrying their cultural identity and heritage in them resulted in new generations derived from past similar crisis: the diasporic return migrants. Growing up in a “host” country where their relatives were defined by cultural difference, those new generations decide to go back to what has been described to them as their “homeland”. At the crossroad between cultures and languages this social group seems to embody transnationalism and transculturalism. How are their multicultural identities actualized and expressed?
Acknowledging the discursive nature of heritage, this research attempts transcending the cultural categorization related to the limitations regarding some linguistic aspects of story-telling by considering a more “universal” form of expression to cease the multi-faceted and fluid identity of diasporic return migrants: art. On the hand of the case-study of French Vietnamese returnee artists of Saigon, Vietnam, this research establishes visual representations as individual conscious or unconscious means of expression of cultural identity. Indeed, through the combination of interpretive biographies and iconological analysis of the artists’ oeuvre, I will explore the transmission of Vietnamese heritage and general definition of the cultural heritage and identity constriction of four French Viet Kieu artists: Sandrine Llouquet, Bao Vuong, Mai-Loan Tu and Florian Nguyen.