Organized Panel Session
Through a focus on the genre of literature, this panel recuperates Vietnamese voices that have tended to be marginalized, voices that James Scott calls the colorful and diverse “vernacular” idioms that have been silenced due to high modernist state projects aimed to homogenize Southeast Asian populations (Seeing Like a State, 1998). Paying close attention to the dynamic relationship between narrative form and socio-historical context, the panel understands literature as a dynamic product of a writer's "interactive process" with society that enables a critic to engage in "literary fieldwork" (see Lucey and McEnaney). Such a literary recuperation contributes to the democratizing project whereby scholars, through their choice of texts, enact what critics call the political reconfiguration of the "division of the sensible" (partage du sensible), the ways by which one perceives the values of some artifacts and not others (see Jacques Ranciere).
The panel foregrounds three understudied milieus of Vietnamese culture: narratives related to deaf communities, shifting criminal legal discourses, and contemporary queer literature. Eileen Vo looks at the development of the Vietnamese modern vernacular in relation to the creation of literary resources for the deaf community in colonial Saigon. Trinh M. Luu looks at the relationship between literature and criminal law during the late socialist period. Finally, Richard Tran looks at the literary strategies of Vietnamese authors writing about LGBT issues in the early millennium.