Associate Professor

Contact information | Tel: 519-884-4404 ext. 28727


PhD, McMaster University
MA, McMaster University 
BA, University of Calgary

I was born in Vietnam and immigrated to Canada at the age of nine. After receiving my BA in English from the University of Calgary I embarked on a two-year teaching stint in Tokyo, Japan. When I left Japan, I backpacked around Asia for a year. Upon my return to Canada, I entered graduate school at McMaster University, where I specialized in Asian diaspora literature and culture.

Vinh Nguyen.

My research is concerned with issues of war, refugees, and affect. My dissertation examined how the “figure of the refugee”—as an analytic—both illuminates and complicates conventional understandings of nationhood, citizenship, and belonging, and in doing so, imagines alternative ways to think about history as well as socio-political formations to come. Taking the context of the war in Vietnam, and the Southeast Asian diasporas that have resulted from it, as my case study, I focused on three affective categories — gratitude, resentment, and resilience — to explore how refugees remember, represent, and embody forced migration and its afterlife. Reading a range of texts including novels, short fiction, memoir, poetry, activist performance, and art videos, my research developed a critical framework for understanding refugee passages through the lens of feeling and embodiment, emotion and collectivity.

Selected Publications

“Refugeography in ‘Post-Racial’ America: Bao Phi’s Activist Poetry.” Refugee Cultures: Forty Years after the Vietnam War. Spec. issue of MELUS: Multi-ethnic Literatures of the United States 41.3 (2016): 171-93. (Editor’s Choice)

“Ann Hui’s Boat People: Documenting Vietnamese Refugees in Hong Kong.” Looking Back on the Vietnam War: Twenty-First Century Perspectives. Eds. Brenda M. Boyle and Jeehyun Lim. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 2016. 94-109.

“Nước/Water: Oceanic Spatiality and the Vietnamese Diaspora.” Migration by Boat: discourses of trauma, exclusion, and survival. Ed. Lynda Mannik. New York: Berghahn Books, 2016. 65-79.

“Mẹ-search, Hauntings, and Critical Distance.” Self-regarding: Looking at Photos in Life Writing. Spec. issue of Life Writing 12.4 (2015): 467-77.

“Refugee Gratitude: Narrating Success and Intersubjectivity in Kim Thúy’s Ru.” Canadian Literature 219 (2013): 17–36.

“Queer Intimacy and the Impasse: Reconsidering My Beautiful Laundrette.” ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature (forthcoming).

Fellowships and Awards

  • Sir James Lougheed Award of Distinction  
  • SSHRC Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement    
  • SSHRC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship    
  • Harry Lyman Hooker Doctoral Fellowship

Areas of Graduate Supervision

  • Asian diaspora literatures
  • War, refugee, and migration studies
  • Affect theory
  • Cultural studies
University of Waterloo

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