“Vietnamese studies in Russia: history and modernity”, the monograph being prepared by the ICCA RAS center for Vietnam and Asean studies

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The article discusses the monograph “Vietnamese Studies in Russia: History and Modernity”, a fundamental publishing project of the RAS Institute of China and Contemporary Asia. The author describes its structure, main contents and the planned stages of the work at the book.

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Russian Oriental studies have a long glorious history and occupy one of the first places in the world. One of their essential components are Vietnamese studies: the study of Vietnam’s policy and economy, history and culture, ethnography and language. Dozens of books and monographs, hundreds of articles have been written in Russia. There exists a well-known Russian scientific school of Vietnam’s history studies organized by Professor D.V. Deopik (the Institute of Asian and African countries at Moscow Lomonosov University). One of the remarkable achievements of this school is the Russian edition (translation and commentaries) of “Dai Viet su ky toan thu” (Complete Annals of Dai Viet), the official national chronicle of the Vietnamese state. The first translation of the chronicle into the foreign language took twenty years and has been finished this year.

Russian Vietnamese studies are full of glorious names of researchers of the elder generation. Many of them passed away. But new names appear less and less, though every year Russian universities produce a lot of young specialists for the Vietnamese language, history, economy and culture. For various reasons, practical work is more attractive for modern youth, than science.

It is high time to record everything what had been created by the previous generations of Vietnamists, to write the history of Russian Vietnamese studies. Anatoly Sokolov, a famous researcher of Vietnam’s history and culture, is the first to suggest this idea. Vladimir Mazyrin, Head of the Center for Vietnam and ASEAN Studies (CVAS) of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies (now the Institute of China and Сontemporary Asia, ICCA), has taken up the idea and presented it to the Institute Directorate. The idea has been approved and the monograph “Vietnamese Studies in Russia: History and Modernity” has obtained the status of the fundamental publishing project of ICCA. It is to be issued in 2024 as a volume of 600 or 700 pages. Head of the project is Professor Vladimir Mazyrin, the coordinator being Elena Nikulina, the research-worker of the Center for Vietnam and ASEAN Studies.

The structure of the book

The monograph will consist of four parts. The first part will tell of the sources of Vietnamese studies in Russia, their origins and the centers of their forming and development. At the end of the 19th century Russian travelers were the first to have written about French Indochina. Anatoly Sokolov has introduced this information into scientific circulation and it will be included into the book. Then the next stage of the 1920–1930s will be described: early studies of Vietnam in such educational and scientific institutions established in the Soviet Union as the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, the International Lenin School, the Scientific Institute of National and Colonial Issues, Moscow Narimanov Institute of Oriental Studies, the Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

Further, this will be followed with the survey of the Soviet/Russian schools of Vietnamese studies. Readers will go into the work of researchers and teachers of such scientific institutions as the Institute of Economics of the World Social System of the USSR Academy of Sciences, the RAS Institute of Oriental Studies, the RAS Institute for Far Eastern Studies, and a number of educational institutes where students could and can study Vietnam and learn the Vietnamese language, the Institute of Asian and African Countries at Moscow Lomonosov University, and Moscow State Institute of International Relations, RGGU and HSE University, Moscow State Linguistic University and the Military University of the Ministry of Defense of the RF, as well as the Faculty of Oriental Studies at SPbU and HSE University campus in St. Petersburg, FEFU Oriental Institute – School of Regional and International Studies, Kursk State University and Kazan Federal University.

The second part of the monograph will focus on the main directions of scientific research, such as history, historiography and archeology, domestic and foreign policies, economics and demography, culture and art, religion and folk beliefs, ethnography and philology, including the compilation of dictionaries.

A special attention will be paid to the collaboration of scientific institutions of the USSR/Russia and DRV/SRV in the sphere of humanities and natural sciences. The vivid examples of the collaboration are as follows: the compilation of the New Big Vietnamese-Russian Dictionary, linguistic expeditions to study unwritten languages of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities, and the activity of the unique Russian-Vietnamese Tropical Research and Technological Center.

The third part of the monograph will discuss other types of popularization and study of Vietnam in Russia, such as joint translations and publications of fiction, training Vietnamese personnel in civil and military universities of the USSR and Russia, Vietnamese radio broadcasting from Moscow, activities of the USSR/Russia Friendship Association.

The fourth part of the book (biograms of lead Soviet and Russian Vietnamists) will be of great value. Each biogram will be supplemented with a list of main works of a researcher or a teacher, emphasizing the contribution of the individual to studies of Vietnam in Russia.

The Conclusion will describe the contribution of Russian Vietnamese studies to the world science.

The work at the monograph

About forty research-workers and teachers contribute to the monograph. Some parts of the book have already been worked up in published articles, but still there are many “white spots”. Therefore, it is necessary to work in archives and libraries, to meet relations and colleagues of the researchers, who passed away.

Some appendices are being planned. Beside a traditional alphabet name index, literature and glossary, there will be another important appendix, namely, interviews and memoires, so called “live history”. They may be not only printed ones, but also audio and video. These materials will be placed separately on the site of ICCA, and easy to be found on the link in the book. Also, on the site of the Institute it is being planned to put references to all the books and articles by all the researchers, whose biograms are published in the book, or to their digital texts.

The biographical part is to be finished at the end of 2022. The preparatory work at the other three parts of the book will be developed in 2023, while editing and preparation for printing will continue throughout 2024. The monograph will be illustrated with numerous photos from the archives of the researchers.

The work at the book has already begun; biograms and the mentioned parts are being written, and materials collected. There is a big, complicated and responsible work ahead. When the book is ready, it will definitely find its place not only in the libraries of Vietnamists, but also of everyone, who is interested in Vietnam and loves this wonderful country.


About the authors

Elena V. Nikulina


Author for correspondence.
Email: elenavtn@mail.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2640-6634

Researcher, Center for Vietnam and ASEAN Studies

Russian Federation, 32 Nakhimovsky Av., Moscow, 117997


Copyright (c) 2022 Nikulina E.V.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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