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The American Dream in Vietnamese$
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Nhi T. Lieu

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816665693

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816665693.001.0001

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Vietnamese by Other Means: The Overlapping Diasporas of Little Saigon

Vietnamese by Other Means: The Overlapping Diasporas of Little Saigon

(p.27) Chapter 2 Vietnamese by Other Means: The Overlapping Diasporas of Little Saigon
The American Dream in Vietnamese

Nhi T. Lieu

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter documents the historical and social development of Southern California’s Little Saigon, with particular emphasis on its emergence as the cultural, political, and economic center of the Vietnamese diaspora. It argues that, despite its small scale, the local experience of exile in Little Saigon is intricately linked to the global emergence of Southeast Asia, particularly in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It considers the contribution of ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam—with business experience and access to capital—to the capitalist economic development of Little Saigon. It describes the uninterrupted ethnic conflict that circumscribes the contested relationship between ethnic Chinese and ethnic Vietnamese refugees from Vietnam as an “overlapping diaspora.” It also examines how the Vietnamese Americans constructed cultural institutions in the ethnic enclave to forge a public identity for themselves under the shadow of Chinese figures that held economic power. The chapter paints Little Saigon as a cultural battlefield where Vietnamese Americans fought to distinguish themselves from other immigrants.

Keywords:   overlapping diaspora, Southern California, Little Saigon, Vietnamese diaspora, Southeast Asia, Chinese refugees, economic development, Vietnamese refugees, Vietnamese Americans, immigrants

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