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Vietnamese as a Homogeneous Nation: The Legend of Hùng Kings and the Politics of Identity

Sun, June 26, 1:00 to 2:50pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: BF, 010


This research project focuses on the role of the Hùng king’s legend in Vietnamese identity formation and national establishment, which demonstrates the common tendency of using ideological tools in the making of a homogeneous nation.
The image of Hùng kings as founders of the “nation” has been utilized by Vietnamese authorities to influence Vietnamese people’s self-identification and origin awareness during the struggle for independence and communist ideology propaganda in the 20th century. To create a national identity and provide a convincing reason for the conception of Vietnam as a nation, Vietnamese authorities have portrayed Hùng kings as the founding fathers of the “nation”. The official admission of Hùng kings as primitive ancestors of all “Vietnamese people” has also equated the Kinh ethnic group with the Vietnamese people, thereby establishing the discourse of Vietnam as a homogeneous nation while negating and confusing the unique identities of the 54 different ethnic groups who currently inhabit Vietnam’s territory.
This interaction between political power and national identity, which I called the “politics of identity” starting from August 1945 Revolution until now, has had widespread political and cultural ramification. It has led to: a concept of Vietnam as a homogeneous nation, a description of Vietnam as one geographically and culturally unified nation, a degree of xenophobia, and the assimilation of Vietnam's minorities and majority ethnic group. And because the regime’s role is not strong enough to exploit local values in social administration, these local values become reinterpreted, and incorporated into other tendencies of identity politics.