Overview of the Organization of Vietnamese Studies in Those Institutions Where Young Researchers Prepare Their Dissertations and These Articles

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Antoine Lê is conducting his PhD at the INALCO (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales). The National University of Languages and Oriental Civilizations is a public university that was founded in 1795. Dr. Jean-Philippe Eglinger is teaching at INALCO, a university where he also defended his PhD. Ever since, it has been amongst the main academic institutions in France to teach dozens of different languages and cultural studies classes. Amongst its 14 research teams, the INALCO has two units that include Vietnamese studies in their capacities – the French Research Institute on East Asia (IFRAE) and the Center for South East Asian Studies (CASE), which is a joint EHESS-CNRS-INALCO research unit. For a scholar in Vietnamese history, being affiliated with these major academic institutions offers priceless opportunities to access important archive centers in France. The first one is the French Diplomatic Archives Center at La Courneuve that curates all the archives of the French Foreign Ministry, while the Diplomatic Archives Center in Nantes holds the fonds from the various French diplomatic missions and embassies around the world. Since 2002, facilitating greatly the researcher’s work, the Center at La Courneuve has recategorized thousands of unique documents from the French diplomatic and intelligence services about all aspects of the Vietnam War under a single archives’ series (148QO Vietnam-Conflit). Another major place of interest for Vietnam scholars is the archive at the Institut d’Asie Orientale (IAO) in Lyon. Consisting of thousands of unique documents originating from scholars Georges Boudarel and Daniel Hemery’s private archives, it has been continuously augmented by Francois Guillemot through the acquisition of hundreds of Vietnamese language publications, that are difficult or near-impossible to find elsewhere.

Dr. Thi Thanh Phuong Nguyen-Pochan has defended her PhD at the University of Paris 8 (Vincennes – Saint-Denis). In 2002, the university’s geopolitical research laboratory has become the French Institute of Geopolitics (IFG). Its scientific journal Hérodote (Journal of geography and geopolitics), founded in 1976, is the oldest journal in this field and is dedicated to research on contemporary geopolitical issues around the world. Hérodote has recently released two dossiers on the Southeast Asian region and Vietnam: Issue No. 176 (2002) on Southeast Asia, and issue No. 157 (2015) on geopolitical issues at stake in contemporary Vietnam. Since 2021, Thi Thanh Phuong Nguyen-Pochan holds a tenure track position at the Catholic University of the West (UCO), the only private university in France to hold a research chair dedicated to Vietnam. Its aim is to establish and develop sustainable academic relations between the UCO and its Vietnamese peers, and to become a powerful network for the exchange of knowledge, expertise and soft skills between France and Vietnam.

Dr. Johann Grémont defended his PhD at the University of Paris, this university (previously called University Paris 7 - Diderot) covers a wide range of disciplines. The fields of human, economic and social sciences offer opportunities to train through researches about colonial studies especially French colonial Indochina. Alain Forest, Pierre Brocheux, Daniel Hémery or Emmanuel Poisson have directed many theses on this subject. Dr. Grémont is now affiliated to the French Research Institute on East Asia (IFRAE/UMR8043), a team affiliated with the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Cultures (INALCO), the University of Paris, and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). It was founded on January 1, 2019. IFRAE gathers specialists studying a vast geographic area. It includes Japan, China, South Korea, North Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Taiwan, Tibet and Vietnam. The institute was created by the merger of two laboratories: ASIEs & the Centre for Japanese studies (CEJ), both part of INALCO, joined by several lecturers and researchers from the University of Paris. It is one of the major research centers on East Asia in Europe.

Marion Reinosa is a PhD researcher affiliated to the Architecture School of Toulouse – Research Laboratory in Architecture (LRA), an active research laboratory focusing on architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning, promoting cross-disciplinary approaches and combining social and technical sciences. Part of the Architecture School of Toulouse, the LRA, has a long-lasting relationship with Vietnam and the Hanoi Architectural University, with several joint educational programmes (delocalised Licence-Master-Doctorat program; post-graduate diploma in heritage and sustainable development). The laboratory has already delivered several PhDs focusing on urban and architectural transformation in the Vietnamese context and engaged in various French-Vietnamese research initiatives. The CESSMA–IRD, part of the University of Paris, is a joint research unit created to analyse the historical and spatial configurations of the dynamics of development and globalisation in the Global South. In Vietnam, this multidisciplinary institute explores various research topics on emerging issues related to rapid development, climate change and resources management, and has built strong partnerships with local universities. This entity has developed diverse research activities and capacity building initiatives such as “Les Journées de Tam Dao”, the “Young Research Team associated with the IRD” (JEAI) programme and the creation of joint research units (LMI, UMI), among other scientific vulgarisation activities.

Clara Jullien is conducting her PhD research at the University of Paris (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne). She’s also an associate member of the Géographie-Cités research lab which focuses on urban planning and mobilities in France and internationally, including Eastern Asia. Her PhD research is conducted in collaboration with the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH), Vietnam National University. Clara Jullien is currently hosted in Ho Chi Minh City by the EFEO (Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient), which supported this work. The EFEO is an interdisciplinary institution presented all across Asia, that develops research in humanities and social sciences on Asian civilizations, promotes fieldwork and maintains a vast documentary collection. Moreover, she is associated to and sponsored by the IRASEC (Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia), a French research center in social sciences and humanities on South-East Asia, based in Bangkok, Thailand, which focuses on political, social, economic and environmental processes, as well as regional integration dynamics. In addition, outside the scope of Vietnamese Studies, Clara Jullien benefited from the strong support of the Palladio Foundation dedicated to the challenges of urban development, and the Académie Française.

Sunny Le Galloudec is a PhD candidate at the University of Le Havre – Normandie, a recent and small but worth mentioning and promising pole for Vietnamese Studies as well as Colonial and Post-Colonial Studies. As a former colonial metropolitan port of the French Empire, Le Havre is also a perfect place for any scholars that might pursue research in Maritime and Port History in a colonial and/or post-colonial approach, as well as in Global History. Many interesting archives material can be found there, including the archives of the Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes, stored at the EPCC French Lines & Companies. In terms of research, Jean-François Klein, now Professor at the University of Bretagne-Sud, recently started a new Vietnamese studies dynamic there, by supervising two PhD candidates: Édouard de Saint-Ours starting from 2018 (his thesis explores the place of photography within the French colonial enterprise in continental Southeast Asia in the 19th century), and Sunny Le Galloudec one year later; both attached to the UMR CNRS IDEES 6266 – Le Havre, a multidisciplinary laboratory where academics, researchers and PhD students are also working on maritime and port topics. Another proof of this new dynamic is the forthcoming international conference “From the Port to the World. A Global History of Indochinese Ports (1858–1956)”, to be held in Da Nang (Vietnam), on October 27–28, 2022. Initiated and coordinated by Sunny Le Galloudec, this international event will indeed be co-funded, amongst others, by the University of Le Havre and the UMR CNRS IDEES 6266.

Camille Senepin is conducting her PhD research at the EHESS, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales [School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences], a research institution based in Paris. This school, born in 1947, is specialized in social and human science. It has 252 full time faculty members and hosts many disciplines such as anthropology, history, sociology, or political sciences. Many French researchers working about Vietnam were PhD students at the EHESS or are university lecturers in the institution. Vietnam and its research issues are discussed in several seminars of the Parisian school, such as “comparative Anthropology of Southeast Asia”, “dialogues between classical and current research on Southeast Asia” or “anthropology of authority”. The researchers conducting the seminars are part of the CASE, Centre Asie du Sud-Est [Center for Southeast Asian Studies], which is a research center dedicated to Southeast Asian Studies. Vietnamese studies are an important part of the life of the CASE and the EHESS, as shown by the large number of researchers working in Vietnam connected to these institutions, such as Annick Guénel, Andrew Hardy, Jérémy Jammes, Anne-Valérie Schweyer, Paul Sorrentino or Benoît de Tréglodé. In 2021, five PhD students researching Vietnam are linked to the EHESS or the CASE.

Guilhem Cousin-Thorez is a PhD candidate at IrAsia in Aix-en-Provence, a research institute created in 2012, when two previous research departments merged to form a single research center, focusing on Asian cultural areas from Southeast Asia to the Far East area. IrAsia’s researchers are specialized on every main humanity and social sciences disciplines. Its headquarters are located at the University of Aix-Marseille, southern France, within the Maison Asie Pacifique. The MAP owns a large library, included in the DocAsie network, which gathers all the main Asian-oriented documentations centers of France. IrAsia publishes three periodicals, notably Moussons since 1999, a bilingual periodical, free access, available both in physical form and online on Openedition. IrAsia participates in a particular research process on the colonial period due to its collaboration and its proximity with the ANOM center (Overseas National Archives). This center features a significant part of the colonial archives of the former French empire. Extensive sets of primary sources from the Vietnam colony and protectorates are available there, dating from the second half of the 19th century to the end of the Indochina War. The considerable diversity of these archives makes it an important documentation center for any research on the colonial period, as a valuable complement to the sources available either in Paris or in Vietnam. The ANOM also has a library which includes numerous publications from the colonial era, in addition to recent scientific works and reviews.


Overview of a scientific conference in France on Vietnam, Southeast Asia

In February 27, 2020, the University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 (UPVM3) organized an International symposium with the France – Vietnam friendship groups of the National Assembly and the French Senate on three issues: South China Sea: Challenges and opportunities for France and Vietnam, littoral states and Indo-Pacific powers. This conference was opened with an inventory of Franco-Vietnamese relations through the testimonies of Stéphanie Do (Deputy Seine-et-Marne and President of the France – Vietnam Friendship Group at the National Assembly). The first two round tables enabled a legal and strategic analysis of regional and international tensions triggered by territorial claims and the various activities of the parties related to the conflict in the South China Sea. The second panel focused on strategic issues in Southeast Asia. The following two round tables aimed to broaden the chronology over a wide period and above all to focus on the Soft Power aspects which were until then less subjects of study. In so doing, they have contributed to a renewal of the approach to the conflicts in the South China Sea and to a broadening of these issues. Finally, the last round table dealt with economic, cultural and environmental aspects linked to the South China Sea riparian states. If we look at the French university developing activities and researches on Vietnam, we should mention the emergence in recent years of a dynamic pole at the University of Montpellier 3 (UPVM3) around Prof. Pierre Journoud. In 2006, the UPVM3 and the University of Languages and International Studies in Hanoi officially established their cooperation, which gave birth to a wide range of activities in Vietnam and in France. In 2019, Prof. Pierre Journoud and Nguyen Thanh Hoa created a new diploma on Vietnamese studies named D.U. “Tremplin pour le Vietnam” (A Jump to Vietnam). With the efficient help of about twenty lecturers from Vietnam and France, having fully committed to fruitful cooperation between both countries, this diploma is now able to cover a large range of areas: arts, communication, economy, environment, geopolitics, history, literature, society, etc. Finally, Pierre Journoud also launched in late 2018 a new interdisciplinary research program called PAGOPI, together with French professors of medicine and anthropology, and a few Vietnamese colleagues. It dealt with uses and consequences of pesticides / dioxin in Southeast Asia: firstly, the Agent orange in South Vietnam and Cambodia during the chemical warfare in the sixties (especially the transgenerational effects), and secondly the use of pesticides today in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.


Scientific institutions researching Vietnam on the map of France


About the authors

Benoît de Tréglodé

Institute for Strategic Research (Ecole Militaire) (IRSEM), School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences

Author for correspondence.
Email: bdt.asie@gmail.com

Director of the Africa – Asia – Middle East Department, Researcher, South-East Asia Center (CASE)

France, Paris


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