Special Seminar by TRAN Thi Liên Claire

Title: A Vietnamese Catholic family in the Red River Delta and beyond:
The Story of Dr Nguyễn Xuân Mai, his ancestors and descendants
Speaker: TRAN Thi Liên Claire, Irasec, Bangkok
Date & Time: June 20, 2019 16:00-18:00
Venue: Small-sized Meeting Room I, Inamori Bldg. 3F

Drawing from the history of a North Vietnamese Catholic family over 4 generations, I demonstrate how belonging religious minority could create a strong minority identity and opportunities for its members to enlarge their horizons through transnational networks. From the itinerary of the politician Nguyễn Manh Hà, a leftist catholic figure, founder of the Vietnamese Youth Workers in Haiphong, and Ho Chi Minh’s Minister of Economy in the first Provisory government in 1945, this project examines the trajectories of Hà and his ancestors, their physical itineraries, and intellectual transformations.
Originating from Cao Xá, a village in the Hưng Yên province, 50 km south of Hà Nội, Hà is coming from a devout catholic home in the Eastern Tonkin Vicariate, which had been evangelized by the Spanish Dominicans since the end of the 17th century. His father, Dr Nguyễn Xuân Mai, one of the first graduates of the Medical school in Hanoi in 1910, enlisted as a volunteer auxiliary doctor in the French Army in 1916 during the First World War. Though he suceeded in getting his doctorate in France, he died at the early age of 40 as a result of war injuries. In Tonkin, Hà was raised by his grandfather, Nguyễn Văn Đăng, who was serving as a civil servant (lettré de residence) in the Vietnamese administration (Tonkin under protectorate). His great grandfather had been one of the 19 martyrs of the Vicariate during the Nguyẽn Emperor Tự Đức’s persecutions against the “perverse religion”.
This history of this Northern Catholic family over 4 generations is based on private archives (with important visual sources and interviews) and colonial and religious ones. It intends to present also an overview on a period of great transformation where modernity and tradition were the challenges of the new ongoing Vietnamese elite.

About the Speaker:
Claire Thi Liên Trân is an historian of contemporary Vietnam and works on the history of Catholicism, state / religious relations, the history of elites and of the press. She is also interested in the management of religious pluralism and religious mobilities in Southeast Asia. She is associate professor at Paris Diderot University, where she teaches the Southeast Asian history. Since 2016, she has served as the Director of Irasec (Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia) based in Bangkok. She is co-editor of the annual publication L’Asie du Sud-Est, Bilan, enjeux et perspectives and is the author of articles on Vietnam. She is editing, with Bernardo Brown (International Christian University, Tokyo) a special issue on “Flows and Mobility in Southeast Asian Christianity” in Sojourn, Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia ISEAS. She is currently editing a collective book: Master of their own Destiny”: Asians in World War One and a biographical monograph, A Vietnamese Catholic family in the Red River Delta and beyond: The Story of Dr Nguyễn Xuân Mai, his ancestors and descendants.

Contact: Porf. Yoko Hayami, CSEAS, Kyoto University
e-mail: yhayami[at]