Vietnam project

The Vietnam Project (2013-2018)

This is a collaboration with the Center for Research and Promotion of Cultural Heritage (CCH) in Hanoi (Vietnam), directed by Professor NGUYEN VAN HUY.  Principal Investigators are Professor van der Veer and Dr Tam Ngo (MPI), Hue-Tam Ho Tai, Young Professor of Sino-Vietnamese History at Harvard University, and Professor Nguyen Van Huy.

Research Program on ‘Spiritual Heritage in Contemporary Vietnam’

This project explores the complex and ambiguous revival of spirit possession and ‘spirit writing’;   two ancient religious traditions in Vietnam. Banned by the state as superstition until recently, these traditions are revived and practiced by a large portion of Vietnamese population within and outside of Vietnam. However, the revival is watched carefully by the state and provokes skepticism among the more secular part of society. As a response, practitioners have begun to adopt the concept of ‘spiritual heritage’ in an attempt to gain respectability and legitimacy. This project focuses on how aspects of identity politics are reflected in and re-worked through contemporary reconstruction and recollection of these traditions’ myths of origins and legendary materials. The project involves exploratory fieldwork as well as the making of two documentary films which shall capture how the revival of spirit possession and spirit writing is taking places in various locations in Vietnam.