Past Event

Toward an Intellectual History of Vietnam - A Book Talk

April 28, 2022
2:10 PM - 4:00 PM
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School of International and Public Affairs, 420 West 118th Street, Room 918, New York, NY 10027

Watch the recorded event here.


  • To register to attend this event in-person, please register HERE
  • To register to attend this event online, please register HERE.


Martina Nguyen, Associate Professor of History, Baruch College

Claire Edington, Associate Professor of History, University of California, San Diego

Duy Lap Nguyen, Assistant Professor of World Cultures and Literatures

Yen Vu, Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University


Lien-Hang Nguyen, Dorothy Borg Associate Professor in the History of the United States and East Asia

This event will be a book talk of Martina Nguyen’s latest book On Our Own Strength. The questions that orient the event are: What does a Vietnamese intellectual history look like? How does it contribute or challenge existing understandings of intellectual history, in both local and global senses? While these two events are distinct, they work toward establishing a subdiscipline that has yet to be defined in Vietnam Studies. Intellectual history, which comes from a European tradition, has predominantly focused on ideas in relation to philosophy, reserved for erudites distanced from the masses. Only more recently has ‘global intellectual history’ emerged to valorize different sources of epistemological contribution around the world, to encourage new perspectives and connections. In the case of Vietnam, so much of Vietnamese intellectual activity (at least in the modern context) is inextricable to nationalism, cultural exchange, societal transformations. At the core of major on-the-ground transitions is in fact a negotiation and discussion of ideas both from within and without. If we return to this fundamental understanding of intellectual history, as a transformation of ideas, then we are able to see how Vietnam’s intellectual activity offers an understanding of intellectual history that is integral to the making and shaping of social and political history. Such an event is important to continue to place Columbia as a burgeoning center for Vietnam Studies.

The presentation of Martina Nguyen’s book is a clear example of how intellectual activity permeates social and political movements, and how intellectuals themselves were the main actors for radical political parties. The talk will be followed by short comments by the guests, informed by their own work on various ideas and their transformations, including the epistemology of medicine, and the importation of continental philosophy in Vietnam.

This event is sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

Contact Information

Julie Kwan