Dr. Tam Ngo

Dr. Tam Ngo

Cultural Anthropology

Fon: +49 (551) 4956 - 222
Fax: +49 (551) 4956 - 170

Tam Ngo studies the events surrounding the 1979 war between China and Vietnam. After having been 'comrades' in the Communist movement for decades (with China being the 'older brother' and Vietnam the 'younger brother') the relationship between the two countries soured quickly after the 1975 Fall of Saigon. In the years preceding the 1979 war millions of Vietnamese of Chinese descent were ousted from Vietnam. In the same period an exodus of South Vietnamese former officials and business men (including small shopkeepers) went overseas creating the South-East Asian refugee crisis that was solved by the willingness of Western countries, including France, Germany, and the Netherlands to receive them. Ngo studies the many facets of this period. She looks at local memory in the border province of Lao Cai, at the repression of these events in official history, at the memories of veterans on both sides of the conflict. She also follows the trajectories of the refugees into China, into South-East Asia, and into Europe (mainly German, Netherlands, and France). Today many of the Vietnamese populations in Europe are from the 'boat refugee' background. Not all, however, and another side of the research is a comparison with those North Vietnamese who came as students and contract laborers to Communist Europe (mainly East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia). The theoretical underpinnings of the research are theories about the cold war, theories about violence and trauma, theories about memory as well as kinship theories. The research is mostly based on fieldwork in Vietnam South-East Asia, China as well as in Europe.

In addition, she continues to work on a project that addresses various aspects of the spiritual revival in Vietnam and their connection to the larger post-war reconciliation processes.



[2016] The New Way. Protestantism and the Hmong in Vietnam. University of Washington Press.  Link

[2015] (edited with Justine Buck Quijada) Atheist Secularism and its Discontents. A Comparative Study of Religion and Communism in Eurasia. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.  Link


[2016] "The new way: Protestantism and the Hmong in Vietnam". In Voice from around the world, 2016(2). Link

[2015] “Missionary encounters at the China-Vietnam border: The case of the Hmong.” Cultural Diversity in China, 1(1), 68-83. doi: 10.1515/cdc-2015-0003. 

[2015] “Dealing with the dragon: Urban planning in Hanoi” in P. van der Veer (ed.), Handbook of religion and the Asian city: Aspiration and urbanization in the twenty-first century. California: University of California Press, pp. 186-200.

[2015] with P. van der Veer and D. Smyer Yu, “Religion and peace in Asia” in R. Scott Appleby, A. Omer, and D. Little (eds.) The Oxford handbook of religion, conflict, and peacebuilding. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

[2015] "Protestant conversion and social conflict: The case of the Hmong in contemporary Vietnam." Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, No. 46(2), pp. 274-292. Pdf

[2011] "Missionary Encounters at the China-Vietnam Border: The Case of the Hmong.” Encounters, No. 4, pp. 113-131. Pdf

[2010] "Ethnic and Transnational Dimensions of Recent Protestant Conversion among the Hmong in Northern Vietnam". In Social Compass 57(3) 332-344. Link

[2009] The short-waved Faith: Christian Broadcastings and the Transformation of the Spiritual Landscape of the Hmong in Northern Vietnam. In Lim, K.G Francis (ed). Mediated Piety: Technology and Religion in Contemporary Asia. Leiden: Brills.  Pdf

Other Publications

2009 ‘The “short-waved” faith: Christian broadcasting and Protestant conversion of the Hmong in Vietnam’, http://www.mmg.mpg.de/documents/wp/WP_09-11_Ngo_Short-waved-Faith.pdf, Working Paper WP 09-11

Lecture and Conference Papers

“Millenarian Options: Human Right Discourse and the Protestant Conversion of the Hmong in Vietnam”. Paper presented at Southeast Asian Seminar Series/ Harvard Asia Research Center, October 28 2011.

“Defining the Hmong Subject: Protestant Conversion, Millenarianism, and the Human Right Question in Vietnam”. Lecture at Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University (Co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion), October 31, 2011.

“Protestant Conversion, Social Relations and the Dilemmas of the Hmong in Northern Vietnam.” Paper presented at the international conference Christianity and States in Asia, ARI, National University of Singapore, 2007.

“The short-waved Faith: Christian Broadcastings and the Transformation of the Spiritual Landscape of the Hmong in Northern Vietnam.” Paper presented at the European Social Science History Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2006 and to be presented at the ARI 4th graduate workshop on Religion and Technology in Contemporary Asia, National University of Singapore, Singapore, 2006.

“Protestant Conversion, Social Relations and the Dilemmas of the Hmong in Northern Vietnam.” Paper presented at the Vietnam Update 2005 conference Not by rice alone: Making sense of spirituality in contemporary Vietnam. Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 2005.

“The impacts of tourism on social institutions of the Hmong in Sapa”. Paper co-presented (with Dr. Tran Huu Son) at the International conference Impact of Globalization, Regionalism, and Nationalism on Minority People in Southeast Asia, Chaingmai, Thailand, 2004.