Re-staging revolution and remembering toward change: National Liberation Front women perform prospective memory in Vietnam Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Eisner, Rivka Syd Matova
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication
  • This dissertation explores the politics of memory, and performances of remembering, among the older women who comprise a war veterans association called the Former Women Political Prisoner Performance Group (Doi Van Nghe Cuu Nu Tu Chinh Tri) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Engaging the women’s narrative histories, commemorative performances, and current community and international actions on behalf of children living with Agent Orange-related disabilities at the Lang Hoa Binh orphanage-hospital, this ethnographic and oral history-based project addresses the politics of memory and social activism among the women veterans, and the transgenerational dynamics of violence that affect the children. As a study rooted in the specificity of embodied performance, I attend to the cultural/historical content of the veterans’ narrative and staged performances; the way they tell their respective and collective histories; their reflexive self-theorizing; and the historical, cultural, and political contexts that conjoin their lives with others in Vietnam, specifically exemplified through their relationship to the Lang Hoa Binh children. Among the primary questions addressed are: how are the veterans engaging a performative politics of memory? How does their hauntological memory politics inform the way they address current social transformations in Vietnam as well as problems of transgenerational, transnational violence? What can be learned from the women’s discursively located, insistently anticipatory remembering and the children’s performance-based social interventions? The dissertation’s three core chapters focus on the lives of four veterans. Their remembering prompts discussion of: the powers of performance and performativity in enactments of patriotic femininity, revolutionary masquerade, the politics and pleasures of commemorative tourism, surviving torture, haunting, and the Vietnamese women’s tradition of pain-taking. The final chapter forwards the idea of prospective remembering through discussion of the veteran’s connections to the Lang Hoa Binh children. Prospective remembering describes the veterans’ ethical life-practice of bearing and witnessing the past, of performing remembering into meaningful social action in the present and future. Through the study of individual lives, particular sites, and intimate exchanges, this dissertation explores what it is, or might be, to live more justly with others by way of discerning and practicing a hauntological, performative politics of prospective remembering.
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  • In Copyright
  • Pollock, Della
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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