Cover image for Colonialism experienced : Vietnamese writings on colonialism, 1900-1931
Colonialism experienced : Vietnamese writings on colonialism, 1900-1931
Lâm, Truong Buu.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Ann Arbor, Mich. : University of Michigan, [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 328 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm

Format :


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DS556.8 .L25 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The first three decades of the twentieth century in late-colonial Vietnam--the period that also marked the transition between the dominant Confucian and nascent Western worldviews--generated an abundance of political literature in that country. The documents from this transitional era belong to a variety of genres: propaganda pamphlets, open letters to government officials, texts for private or clandestine classrooms, manifestos of political or cultural organizations, columns from newspapers, public proclamations, petitions to international agencies, and poems. Whether from the old or the new era, however, they all expressed an opinion on the colonial status of their country.
Scholar Truong Buu Lam has collected twenty of these documents, all written between 1900 and 1931, into an anthology which captures the spirit of the conflicting ideologies and the political struggles of this time. Written originally in Vietnamese, French, or classical Chinese, the documents have been translated into English by Lam and given individual introductions in an effort to clarify their historical contexts most accurately. Lam also provides a lengthy overview of the contemporary scene at the time of the writings to further illuminate the grander themes tying the writings together.
In Vietnam, all of these writings are well-known texts, quoted in every publication that examines the period under consideration; yet, to the best of our knowledge, few have been reproduced in their entirety and none has ever been translated into English. This translation marks an important addition to the fields of Southeast Asian and colonial studies and will be welcomed by historians, political scientists, and anthropologists alike.
Truong Buu Lam is Associate Professor of History, University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is editor of the collections Patterns of Vietnamese Response to Foreign Intervention, 1858-1900 and Borrowings and Adaptations in Vietnamese Culture , and the author of Resistance, Rebellion, Revolution: Popular Movements in Vietnamese History and New Lamps for Old: The Transformation of the Vietnamese Administrative Elite .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

There is a rich trove of the Vietnamese response to colonialism, including Bernard Fall's 1967 anthology Ho Chi Minh on Revolution and the 1999 translation of the autobiography of Phan Boi Chau, Overturned Chariot. Though these two are about the best known of Vietnam's many anticolonialist leaders, the publication of this new collection of translations makes many other voices accessible in English for the first time. Translator and editor Lam identifies three phases in the colonial experience of Vietnam: the initiation of French military action to the completion of the French conquest in 1900; 1900 to 1945, the period of the mature French colony; and from Ho Chi Minh's declaration of independence in 1945 to the end of the American war in 1975. Three chapters on the French colonial system and Vietnamese views of it occupy the first third of the book, about 100 pages. The remaining two-thirds present 20 documents, letters, essays, and poems written by anticolonial activists, ranging from Phan Boi Chau's 1907 essay "The New Viet Nam" to Pham Quynh's 1931 open letter to the French minister of colonies. This book is especially valuable as a resource in undergraduate history courses about Vietnam, making available a wide range of previously unheard Vietnamese voices. C. L. Yates Earlham College