Creating new spiritual homes: Vietnamese refugees negotiating *American and Catholic identities

Linh N Hoang, Fordham University


The dissertation examines the presence of the Vietnamese Catholic refugees in the American Catholic Church. Through the process of "culture negotiation," the dissertation examines the history of Vietnam, the process of refugee assimilation, the appropriation of the doctrine of the Trinity as a support in the process of culture negotiation. This theological perspective on culture negotiation will help not only the Vietnamese American Catholics reflect on their experiences but also those studying them to better understand their participation in and contribution to the American Catholic Church. During the French colonial period, the Vietnamese people seriously had to negotiate between two very different and at times contradictory cultures. The desire for independence from the oppressive colonialism of the French marked many years of ongoing conflicts and eventually wars. These wars created a mass movement of peoples within the country and then to asylum countries throughout Asia and the entire world. As the refugee plight progressed it shaped the way the Vietnamese people has "assimilated" to the United States. Their experience was not unique in the history of migration but the sheer number and involvement of many nations of the international community left a lasting impression on the history of migration. The Trinity is appropriated to help the Vietnamese American Catholic community reflect theologically on their Confucian-influenced relationships with that of the new relationships in the West. This appropriation attempts to balance the apparent inconsistencies both in the development of the doctrine and its engagement within new cultural experiences, especially encountering Eastern and Western cultures. The feature of harmony in the Confucian-influenced Vietnamese people is considered to maintain the ongoing negotiation between encountering cultures. It is the hope that as Vietnamese refugees remain in America, they do not loose their unique cultural identity but rather negotiate between the two in order to better create the new spiritual homes that they have constructed in America.

Subject Area

Theology|Religious history|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Hoang, Linh N, "Creating new spiritual homes: Vietnamese refugees negotiating *American and Catholic identities" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3216914.