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1981
Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2040-4344
  • E-ISSN: 2040-4352

Abstract

Vietnamese diasporic refugee narratives critically engage images of helicopter rescues and crowded boats that saturate American-mediated memories of war’s aftermath. From a critical refugee studies perspective, Yến Lê Espiritu links war to displacement through these images to define the United States as a ‘militarized refuge’. For Mimi Nguyen, arrival initiates a ‘gift of freedom’ that names the indebtedness of the refugee to the state. In their critical engagements, arrival initiates debt for militarized refugees. To further their work, I problematize the celebration of arrival with what I call the fallacy of certainty. To dismantle the certainty of arrival, I examine expressions of what Vinh Nguyen calls ‘refugeetude’ in depictions of refugee journeys by Ocean Vuong, G. B. Tran, Nam Le and Matt Huynh. Employing Espiritu’s method of ‘critical juxtapositioning’, I engage Édouard Glissant’s relationality of the abyss and the opacity of the open boat to contextualize forced migration narratives within a longue durée of imperialism that Aníbal Quijano calls coloniality. Ending with Long Bui’s discussion of a postmemory generation of Vietnamese diasporic artists and writers’ use of performativity, I show how they forward critical refugee studies when they imaginatively return to the journey, articulating relationalities that cross oceans and temporalities.

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2023-01-30
2024-07-16
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