chapter  47
11 Pages

Vietnamese diasporic citizenship

ByClaire Sutherland

This chapter explores diaspora citizenship through the case of Vietnam. There, as elsewhere, nationality – in the strict sense of national belonging – is so closely bound up with citizenship and naturalization that citizenship can be considered the legal expression of national belonging (Sutherland 2012a ). In the Southeast Asian context, the practical and spiritual connotations of nationality and citizenship are very wide-ranging, as is evidenced in the anthropological work of Aihwa Ong ( 1999 ) and Kate Jellema ( 2007 ) among others. Jellema ( 2007 , 70) has used the term ‘kinetic nationalism’ to describe the Vietnamese state’s readiness to countenance the long-distance belonging and periodic return of its diaspora as part of its nation-building project, one which is increasingly premised on the shared practice of ancestor worship as a source of national solidarity. This marks a new departure in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s (SRV) positioning of citizenship to appeal to its diaspora, and a greater readiness among some members of that diaspora to engage with an ideological foe. Vietnamese citizenship is thus clearly a site of struggle over its ideological, religious, and ethnic parameters. The following chapter uses the concepts of territory, ideology, and solidarity to illuminate different facets of citizenship in the Vietnamese case.