Scholars of the World on Vietnam and Eastern Asia

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The survey discusses the greatest world forum of Vietnamists in 2021 – the 6th International Conference on Vietnamese Studies held 28-29 October (direct and distant format) in Hanoi, the capital of the SRV, and the 2nd International Scientific Conference on Culture and Education held on November 26 (the mixed format) in Hue, the former capital of Emperor’s Vietnam. The themes of papers enveloped regional and international problems, ideology and politics, ethnography and religions, education and human capital, economics, technologies and environmental protection, language, culture and literature, problems of state and law, history and archeology, sociology, as well as achievements and difficulties of Vietnamese studies in different countries of the world.

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Survey of the 6th International Conference on Vietnamese Studies, October 28-29, 2021, Hanoi

The 6th International Conference on Vietnamese Studies, the greatest world forum on Vietnamese studies, was held from October 28 to 29 in Hanoi. Since 1998 the conference has been held every four years under the auspices of Vietnam’s Academy of Social Sciences (VASS) and Vietnam National University (VNU) and invites the world-leading specialists on Vietnam. This meeting was planned to be held in December 2020 but was several times postponed due to the coronavirus infection and quarantine measures. This time the conference has been held in the mixed format, i.e., distant for the most foreign Vietnamists. 730 papers have been submitted from Vietnamese and foreign specialists in different fields, such as international relations, history, economics, social problems, culture, and language.

The participants were welcomed by the leaders of the Government of the SRV, VASS, and Vietnam National University (VNU) (Fig. 1). At ten panel discussions and in the open forum there spoke more than 120 researchers from Vietnam, Japan, India, Russia, US, Great Britain, France, Germany, South Korea, China. Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand, Italy, Czech, and Poland. This survey uses the information of Russian participants of the conference.


Fig. 1. Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam welcomes the conference participants.

Photo by TTXVN


The plenary session of the conference was opened with the paper of V. Kolotov, Head of the Chair of History of the Far Eastern Countries, Director of Ho Chi Minh Institute of Saint Petersburg State University, who spoke on the early period of the Leningrad school of Vietnamese studies (the 1930s). Doctor D. Dellheim from Rose Luxemburg Foundation (FRG) shared her views on the results of social and economic changes in Vietnam. P. Masina, Professor of the University of Naples “L’Orientale”, devoted his report to the correlation of industrial development and the human person’s stability.

The program of Conference-2021 included the open forum, a new structural form, i.e., the plenary session followed with the discussion. It was held in direct and distant format. Besides the participants of the conference, there were representatives of the authorities of VNU, some Embassies, and foreign cultural and educational organizations, V. Stepanov, a representative of the RF Embassy in the SRV, Director of the Russian Center of Science and Culture, among them. The Forum analyzed the achievements and perspectives of the world Vietnamese studies. The main report by Vu Minh Giang, VNU Professor, highlighted the history of Vietnamese studies both in Vietnam and abroad. Professor V. Kolotov shared information on the activities of Ho Chi Minh Institute of Saint Petersburg University in the sphere of diplomacy and science (including research work, translations, archive activity, and conferences), education, culture, economics, analytics, and expert services. Furuta Motoo, President of the Japanese Association of Vietnamese Studies, analyzed the situation in Vietnamese studies in his country during the recent decade. The current state of Vietnamese studies in Germany and Europe was shown in the report by T. Engelbert, Professor of Hamburg University.

Grossheim, Professor of Seoul State University, concentrated on new tendencies in studies of recent Vietnamese history, in particular on reconsideration of the cold war period, the role of small countries, which, in the speaker’s opinion, impacts the interpretation of some historical events. In his report, Pham Hong Tung, Professor of VNU, addressed the history of the regional studies’ development in their comparison with globalists, which presupposes the interdisciplinary approach in humanities. Unlike these general and analytical reports was that by Doctor Binh Slavická (The Charles University, Czech), who gave information on teaching the Vietnamese language and foreign studies in her university. The level of the paper, probably, incorporated into the program to extend the geography of the participants, did not meet the level of the plenary session of such a serious and prestigious conference.

On the second day of the conference, ten panel discussions were held. The first of them was devoted to regional and international problems. Researchers from Vietnam’s universities, VASS institutes, the Diplomatic Academy of the MFA SRV, and the Vietnam Academy of Defense of the Ministry of National Defense, as well as experts from the Indian Council of Social Science Research, Pune University, and the Indian Council of World Affairs. The themes of the reports were as follows: COVID-19 influence on the international situation and Vietnam’s policy, the SRV relations with the PRC and the US, the place of Vietnam in Indo-Pacific strategy, Vietnam’s foreign policy, the policy of defense and security, and people’s diplomacy.

The participants of the second panel discussion, the researchers from Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Germany. Japan and China, discussed the problems of ideology and politics: from Vietnamese Buddhism to the Jazz under Socialism, from the renovation of the Vietnamese village to the reform of Vietnamese political ideology, from the investigation of the way, having been planned by Ho Chi Minh and passed by the Vietnamese people from 1959 to 1975, to Le Quy Don’s conception of governance. The process of Vietnamese reforms was analyzed on the basis of the transformation theory, participation of Vietnam citizens in the state governing, development of human rights in ASEAN, theory, and practice of the CPV construction during the Renovation, also, the creative renovation of Marxism-Leninism in Vietnam and its application in the new situation.

The third panel, having discussed some features of gender relations in families of ethnic minorities in Vietnam, and the equality concept as comprehended by the Yao (Dao) people on the example of one of the communities, addressed the problems of religion. British researcher S. Ramsby spoke on the conversion of the Hmong (Mong) people (Southwest Vietnam) into Protestantism during the recent 35 years, simultaneously with the development of the market economy and tourism industry. On the basis of his field research, the speaker concluded that these people comprehend Christianity as the way to prosperity. Russian researcher E. Gordienko (the Center for Religions Studies, RUHS) chose the theme of her paper the religious cult of A. Yersin (1863–1943), a Swiss-French bacteriologist, in the place of his burial, in the suburbs of Nha Trang. She describes this phenomenon as a new syncretic cult, comprising the worship of the scientist as a spirit-protector of the locality in the scope of Vietnamese folk religion and as a bodhisattva in the frameworks of Buddhism. The report by Hoang Thi Thu Huong, the researcher of the Institute for Religious Studies of VASS, was devoted to the deities’ system of the Yao (Dao) people as reflected in mythology, rituals, and especially in iconography. Doctor Chu Xuan Giao (Institute of Culture Studies of VASS) addressed the image of a Chinese governor Gao Pian, who governed Vietnamese lands in the 9th century and left a bright trace in religious and mythological ideas of the Vietnamese, which found a second life in the 21st century in mass media and social networks. Dong Thanh Danh, a specialist on the history and culture of Chams, discussed a gender aspect in Chams’ vision of life, of their religious ideas reflected in mythology and scriptures, and also in religious practices. In her paper, Doctor Do Lan Hien, an Assistant Professor of Ho Chi Minh State Political Academy, analyzed the current religious situation in Vietnam in the aspect of the security of religious institutions’ activity for the human being and society as a whole, as well as the state and the state ideology.

At the fourth panel, the researchers from Vietnamese, Japanese, American, Czech, and Thai scientific and educational institutions discussed the achievement of human development in Vietnam in the recent decades and various educational problems. Also, the themes of integration of Vietnamese migrants and their children into a foreign language environment, as well as the new values of the Vietnamese youth, were raised.

At the panel devoted to economics, science, technology, and protection there were delivered reports of Vietnamese, Japanese, and Thai experts on the development of digital economy, technological innovations in the economy and their encouragement, on the adaptation of the population of Vietnam coastal regions to climate change and the use of lands in mountainous areas for the country’s sustainable development.

The sixth panel discussed both problems of history and methodology of Vietnamese literature and language and their current problems. Researchers from Vietnamese, American, and French academic institutes and universities spoke on how to determine the value system of Vietnamese culture and art, on the investigation of the formation process of the current Vietnamese nation through the development of the literature in quoc ngu, on the current Vietnamese novel in the period of Renovation and international integration, on experiments in the current Vietnamese poetry and on changes in Vietnamese grammar. Two speakers analyzed “The Tale of Kieu”, a novel in verse by Nguyen Du (1766 – 1820). Some papers addressed problems of ethnic minorities’ languages, the task to preserve the purity of the Vietnamese language, as well as the reflection of social changes in current Vietnamese society in it.

The seventh panel actively discussed problems of the state and law (Fig. 2). They were: building a state of law, and public administration in Vietnam in accordance with the requirements of integration and sustainable development, the supremacy of the law and the advantages of the developed state, legal aspects of the agreements on free trade signed in the SRV, international cooperation in criminal procedures and the improvement of criminal legislation in the conditions of the fourth industrial revolution. Great attention was paid to legal problems of the economy in the conditions of international integration, development of e-commerce, intellect adding value. The report by Doctor A. Molotnikov, Head of the Center of Asian Legal Studies (the Law Department, MSU), on the impact of the Soviet law on the formation of the Vietnamese law and the report by Doctor J. Thomas James, a Fellow of the British Royal Society of Encouraging Arts, Industry and Trade, on international economic crime were of great interest.


Fig. 2. Vietnamese participants of the seventh panel section.

Source: www.


At the eighth panel researchers of Vietnamese educational and scientific institutions, the Center for Vietnamese Studies of Taiwan State University Chenggong and Aix-Marseille University (France) discussed problems of history and archeology. The reports were both on ancient time (paleolithic findings on the territory of Vietnam, the appearance of the triad “Confucianism – Buddhism – Daoism”, new archeological findings on the territory of the ancient capital of Thang Long) and more recent historical period (the development of victual shipping in Vietnam of the 19th century, plantations at the North of Tay Nguyen under French colonialists, policy to the Chinese in Vietnam from the 17th to the early 20th centuries in Han-Viet and Nom sources). Relevant current problems were discussed, such as Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands and the climate changes impact on the life of the Mekong Delta population.

The ninth panel discussion united the reports on culture studies. The report by H. Finni, Assistant Professor of the University of Seattle, with the theme “Long-Term Analysis of Cultural Changes: “request of a baby” as a Research of a Concrete Situation” raised great interest and a lot of questions. Considering the problem of Vietnamese single mothers, who deliberately decided to give birth to a baby, H. Finni shared the data of the analysis both of the changes in reproduction policy and tactics for the recent thirty years and of the attitude of society to such incomplete families. The author managed to connect the shift in the social evaluation of the phenomenon with the evolution of cultural values in society. The report by Doctor Y. Lenzi of LASALLE College of the Arts (Singapore) discussed the two existing conceptions of the origin of modern Vietnamese art: its emergence as the result of Western impact or its independent origin rooted in local traditional sources.

Kraevskaya, an Assistant Professor of the International Institute of VNU and the Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies of HSE, having summarized the theory of archiving and her own experience of digital archive creation on foreign platforms, made the conclusion of urgent archiving materials in Russia and creation of a digital archive of Vietnamese art on the local platform. The report by Nguyen Thi Yen on the renovation of cultural legacy with the aim of its promotion generated lively discussion, having raised the question of the authenticity of national treasures undergone changes for the current audience. The report by Doctor Vu Thi Phuong Hau on cultural development in the period of Renovation and the paper by Doctor Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa on stimuli, frames, and challenges of the process of democratization of culture raised questions on the role of the state and the state support of innovations in the cultural sphere. Also, the presentations highlighting traditions and cultural specificities of some localities and ethnic minorities of Vietnam were of interest. The report by Do Thi Thu Ha on magical rituals of Teybak mountain-dwellers is noteworthy, as it contained unique cultural and ethnographic material collected by the author.

The last panel addressed social researches and discussed a number of interesting relevant papers. The participants were not only Vietnamese sociologists, but also specialists from Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Poland. They discussed the factors influencing the urban development and the ideas of the Vietnamese of happiness and public space, problems of social anthropology and household economies, as well as of migrants, disabled persons and incomplete families.

The 6th International Conference on Vietnamese Studies showed that current processes in Vietnam, its history, economy and culture are of great interest for the world scientific community.

The 2nd International Scientific Conference on Culture and Education, November 26, 2021, Hue

On November 26–27, 2021 Hue, the former Emperor’s capital, was the place of the 2nd International Scientific Conference on culture and education (ICCE 2021) with the theme of “The New School Education in East Asia and Vietnam from the First Half of the 19th to the End of the 20th Centuries”. The conference was held in the mixed format. Sixty-one papers were selected out of nearly 80 papers submitted to the Conference by more as 40 academic and educational institutions of the SRV and foreign countries. The working languages of the conference were Vietnamese, French and English. It consisted of the plenary session and five panels with the following themes: neoclassical education in Vietnam, neoclassical education in East Asia, literature, education and culture. Main reports (45 min.) were delivered by researchers of different countries: Doctor Truong Cong Quynh Ky and Doctor Nguyen Thi Phuong Ngoc (Vietnam), Doctor О. Bable and Doctor L. Chivay (France), Professor V. Kolotov (Russia), Professor S. Gopinathan (Singapore). The reports by key-participants raised the problems of the impact of Western education system and political thought on education reforms in Vietnam, Korea, China and Singapore. V. Kolotov delivered the report with the theme “The Impact of Soviet Political Doctrine on Vietnam in the mid-20th Century in the Sphere of Political Theory” (Fig. 3).


Fig. 3. Professor V. Kolotov delivers the report at the conference in Hue.

Photo by the author

Serious international conferences in Vietnam evidence the growth of prestige of Vietnamese science in the world. Also, it shows that despite hardships connected with the dissemination of the coronavirus infection worldwide, researchers of various countries not only continue their investigation but also actively share their results with their colleagues at international forums held in a new, distant, format.


About the authors

Elena V. Gordienco

Russian State University for the Humanities

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3922-7686

Adjunct Fellow

Russian Federation, Moscow

Vladimir N. Kolotov

St. Petersburg State University, Ho Chi Minh Institute

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1810-4348

D.Sc. (History), Professor, Head of the Chair of Far Eastern Countries History, Eastern Faculty, Director of Ho Chi Minh Institute

Russian Federation, St. Petersburg

Natalya M. Kraevskaya

Vietnam National University; National Research University “Higher School of Economics”

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4994-1410

Ph.D. (Philology), Associate Professor, International Institute; Associate Professor, Institute of Oriental and Classical Studies

Viet Nam, Hanoi; Moscow

Elena V. Nikulina

Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2640-6634

Researcher, Center for Vietnam and ASEAN Studies, Institute of the Far Eastern Studies

Russian Federation, Moscow


Supplementary files

Supplementary Files
1. Fig. 1. Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam welcomes the conference participants.

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2. Fig. 2. Vietnamese participants of the seventh panel section.

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3. Fig. 3. Professor V. Kolotov delivers the report at the conference in Hue.

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Copyright (c) 2021 Gordienco E.V., Kolotov V.N., Kraevskaya N.M., 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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