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“Without ritual, there would be no ethnic culture”: Religion and changing Chinese diasporic identity in Vietnam

April 11, 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


“Without ritual, there would be no ethnic culture”: Religion and changing Chinese diasporic identity in Vietnam

In this talk, I will present a total of four case studies to analyse the transformations and hidden discourses of ethnic Chinese (người Hoa 華人) rituals dedicated to public gods. Vietnam’s ethnic Hoa communities have proactively taken advantage of their long-lasting folk religions and ritual system to reserve and further the values of maintaining ethnic cultural identity and developing inter-ethnic exchanges.
With their post-war economic status in decline, Vietnam’s ethnic Chinese have been learning to use their cultural traditions to secure their position in the local society. As a result, the Confucian concept of “Without ritual, there would be no morality” 道德禮儀, 非禮不成  has now been re-formulated as “Without ritual, there would be no ethnic culture” 民族文化, 非禮不成 and been applied to adapt to local socio-political backgrounds in contemporary Vietnamese society.
Nguyen Ngoc Tho (阮玉詩) is Associate Professor in Cultural Studies, majoring in East Asian and Vietnamese folklore and social ritual studies. He concentrates on rituals, customs and daily life of the Vietnamese and ethnic Chinese peoples under the East Asian perspective. He obtained his PhD degree in Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City, was a visiting scholar to Zhongshan University (PRC) in 2008, the Harvard-Yenching Institute during the 2017/2018 academic year, Harvard University’s Asia Centre in 2018/2019, Boston University in 2019/2020, and Brandeis University 2020/2021. Nguyen Ngoc Tho is the author of six books and more than 40 journal articles published in Vietnam and overseas. He holds the co-authorship of dozen other books, book chapters and journal articles. He is currently the Dean of Faculty of Cultural Studies, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City. He also serves as a member of the Standing Committee of The National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED) of Vietnam (Council of Culture, Arts, and Tourism).
The event is organized by the CRF Project “Infrastructures of Faith: Religious Mobilities on the Belt and Road [BRINFAITH]” (RGC CRF HKU C7052-18G), which is hosted by the ASIAR – Asian Religious Connections Research Cluster in HKIHSS.


April 11, 2022
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Via Zoom (Registration required)