This book examines how the racialization of religion facilitates the diasporic formation of ethnic Vietnamese in the U.S. and Cambodia, two communities that have been separated from one another for nearly 30 years. It compares devotion to female religious figures in two minority religions, the Virgin Mary among the Catholics and the Mother Goddess among the Caodaists. Visual culture and institutional structures are examined within both communities. Thien-Huong Ninh invites a critical re-thinking of how race, gender, and religion are proxies for understanding, theorizing, and addressing social inequalities within global contexts.
About the Author
Thien-Huong T. Ninh is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, CA. Her publications and research interests are in the areas of Race, Religion, Gender, Immigration, Globalization, Asian Studies, and Diaspora.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Contextualizing the Research
Chapter 2: The Virgin Mary as the Mother of the Vietnamese Catholic Diaspora
Chapter 3: Vietnamese Catholic Humanitarian Organizations Across U.S.-Cambodia Borders
Chapter 4: The Caodai Mother Goddess in Diasporic Disjunctures
Chapter 5: Structural Hierarchies and Fragments among Vietnamese Caodaists
Chapter 6: Conclusion
What People are Saying About This
“How do refugees scattered in countries at opposite ends of the world come to see themselves as part of a diaspora? How do ties of language and nationality become sacralized and bound to a sense of a shared destiny? This exciting new study by Thien-Huong Ninh argues that religion, and especially the compelling presence of sacred mothers, either the Catholic Virgin Mary or the Caodai Mother Goddess, helps to create new transnational communities for Vietnamese in the United States and in Cambodia. Experiences of racialization and marginalization have led both groups to seek to re-connect with each other through the idiom of devotion to a maternal image of divinity, and have pushed them to struggle to achieve religious freedom.” (Janet Hoskins, University of Southern California, USA)
“With this book Dr. Thien-Huong Ninh establishes herself as a pioneer and authority in the field of the intersections of ethnic, diasporic, feminist and religious studies of Vietnamese migration. Her comparison between the Catholic Our Lady of Lavang and the Caodai Mother Goddess and her study of their roles in the formation of Vietnamese transnational communities set the gold standard for future sociological and anthropological investigations of Vietnamese migrants.” (Peter C. Phan, Georgetown University, USA)
“This book is the first in Southeast Asian and/or diasporic studies to bring together racialization in the country of settlement and transnationalism to think through religious practices across two different religions and national contexts in comparative perspective. This is a novel approach that rejects canonical understandings of religion. This book will significantly move the conversations forward in all these fields.” (Thu-Huong Nguyen-vo, University of California, Los Angeles, USA)