Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Politics of Memory
In dialogue with the critical scholarship on war and remembrance, my research deals with the construction, contestation and negotiation of collective memory in contemporary Vietnam with a focus on commemorations devoted to dead soldiers. Utilizing the methodologies of cultural studies and ethnography, this research seeks to comprehend the politics of memory which characterize collective memory as a social phenomenon whose meanings, interpretations and forms are variedly constructed from a certain social group to the next. Empirically, in this research, constitutive elements of Vietnamese postwar memoryscapes including the hero-centered discourse sanctioned by the Communist Party and the Socialist state, the family remembrance rooted in religious and kinship mandates and the newly emerged online ecology of memory are examined in their own nature as well as in their complicated intertwinements and constant interactions with each other. Case studies and specific methods of individual interview, participant observation and cultural analysis enable the author to approach and identify a wide range of forms and intersections between official and vernacular practices, between oral and living history and institutionalized and cultural presentations of memory. While considering these issues specifically in the Vietnamese context, my dissertation contributes to the increasing theoretical debates in the field of memory studies by exploring the relation of power and the symbolic struggle within and between different social agents involved. As it emphasizes the dynamic and power of memory, this research furthermore situates the phenomenon of collective memory in its dialogues with a broader cultural political environment of postwar society, which is characterized as a hybrid condition embracing processes of nationalism, modernization and post-socialist transformation. Significantly, during these dialogues, as demonstrated in this research, memory works embrace presentism and future-oriented functions which require any social group who is involved to negotiate and renegotiate its position, and to structure and restructure its power. Last but not least it must construct and reconstruct its own versions of the past. Author Keywords: collective memory, Dead soldiers, postwar society, Socialist Vietnam, the politics of memory, war remembrance
Shaman Detective
This thesis examines a specific figure that appears throughout contemporary Japanese detective fiction (across different media), which I have termed the Shaman detective. A liminal figure that combines Japanese folk cosmologies with contemporary detective work, the Shaman detective is at once similar to, yet separate from, western postmodernist detective fiction. Invested in narratives of enchantment the Shaman detective is marked by his rejection of the epistemological ties of the modern and classical detectives that cause his counterparts to fail in the face of postmodern subjectivism. Committed to il-logic, dreaming, play, and intuition, the Shaman detective exists in the realm of the Fantastic, bridging the gap between mundane and marvellous realities. This thesis reads Shaman detective texts using western postmodernist theory with Todorov’s theory of the Fantastic and Jane Bennett’s New Materialism. This is synthesized with Japanese thought traditions, cosmologies and philosophies, in order to draw out the Shaman detective. Author Keywords: Enchantment, Japanese Fiction, New Materialism, Postmodern Fiction, Shamanism, the Fantastic

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2011 - 2021
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