Each year the Engaging With Vietnam conference addresses a new theme, but the underlying emphasis of the conference is always on examining knowledge production about Vietnam in the context of globalization and the mobility of people and ideas.
Over the past 25 years, increased mobility by scholars and students both in and outside of Vietnam, and the ease with which ideas can now be transmitted across the Internet, have led to transformations in how people view, think about, and understand Vietnam.
However, these new ways of thinking have not entirely replaced ideas that were established in the past. The result is that knowledge about Vietnam today is a hybrid mixture of different forms of knowledge.
The Engaging With Vietnam conference series is dedicated to examining these complex, and at times contradictory, ways of knowing Vietnam in an effort to reach a deeper and more sophisticated level of knowledge for all.
The first conference in 2010 addressed the core theme of how knowledge about Vietnam has been constructed and reconstructed in the context of globalization, mobility and transnationality, while the second conference later that same year focused more specifically on how globalized social sciences and humanities are received, taught, applied and adapted in Vietnam and in studies about Vietnam.
The third conference went a step deeper still to engage with, and question, a dichotomy that is often assumed between "Western" theories in research about Asian contexts and how local "Asian" cultures and scholarship may mediate them.
The fifth conference also directly addressed the core issue of knowledge production by examining knowledge production in the context of Vietnam's "integration" into the world by considering such questions as the following: What does it mean when we say that there is scholarly integration between Vietnam and the rest of the world? What is it that scholarship in Vietnam is integrating with? Is there only one form of “world scholarship” that can be integrated into? Or are there many?
Meanwhile, the seventh conference on "Knowledge Journeys and Journeying Knowledge" looked more closely at the ways that mobility influences and transforms knowledge production, and featured a pioneering forum on Vietnam-US higher education.
Other conferences in the series have built on these intellectual discussions to explore how we can produce knowledge about Vietnam in new ways.
This was the aim of the fourth conference on "Vietnam Beyond the Boundaries" which encouraged participants to consider Vietnam as a land connected to peoples and places beyond its borders. The sixth conference on “Frontiers and Peripheries: Vietnam Deconstructed and Reconnected,” meanwhile, invited participants to think of Vietnam not as a self-contained entity as has conventionally been done, but instead to examine Vietnam as a frontier or periphery of larger entities and as containing in itself distinct frontiers and peripheries.
More recently, the eighth and ninth conferences have sought to look at ways that knowledge is produced by, and about, certain segments of the Vietnamese experience. The eighth conference focused on the relationship between scholarship and the arts, and the ninth looked at tourism, sustainability and development.
We would like express our sincere gratitude to the following universities, governmental organizations and other organizations for their generous support of the Engaging With Vietnam initiative: Monash University; the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University, Hanoi; the Australian Embassy, Vietnam; the East-West Center; the Australian Consulate in Honolulu; Thai Nguyen University; the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Oregon; the Hanoi University of Business and Technology; Portland State University; the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City; Thu Dau Mot University; and An Giang Province.