Treacherous Subjects

Gender, Culture, and Trans-Vietnamese Feminism
Trecherous Subjects book cover

Treacherous Subjects is a provocative and thoughtful examination of Vietnamese films and literature viewed through a feminist lens. Lan Duong investigates the postwar cultural productions of writers and filmmakers, including Tony Bui, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Tran Anh Hung. Taking her cue from the double meaning of “collaborator,” Duong shows how history has shaped the loyalties and shifting alliances of the Vietnamese, many of whom are caught between opposing/constricting forces of nationalism, patriarchy, and communism. Working at home and in France and the United States, the artists profiled in Treacherous Subjects have grappled with the political and historic meanings of collaboration. These themes, which probe into controversial issues of family and betrayal, figure heavily in fictions such as the films The Scent of Green Papaya and Surname Viet Given Name Nam. As writers and filmmakers collaborate, Duong suggests that they lay the groundwork for both transnational feminist politics and queer critiques of patriarchy.

Published Date:

Temple University Press


In Treacherous Subjects, Lan Duong engages in sharp criticism of nationalism in so-called ‘homeland’ and community politics. Her ambitious new book provides a courageous and much-needed gender analysis of Vietnamese, Vietnamese-American and French-Vietnamese literature and film.
Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

Duong’s Treacherous Subjects inaugurates sui generis the field of diasporic Vietnamese feminism. Treacherous Subjects is a monumental work upon which a generation of future students and scholars will build. It will establish Duong as the principal intellectual figure of the field she will have helped to establish.
—James Kyung-Jin Lee, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Asian American Studies, University of California, Irvine

Treacherous Subjects offers a new reading of literary and filmic texts by Vietnamese and Vietnamese diasporics that rethinks the nation in its gendered, sexualized, and political economic representations…I know of few books that put forth this reading which problematizes the nation and its heteronormative boundaries as effectively as this work does.
—Nguyen-vo Thu-huong, Associate Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures, and Asian American Studies, UCLA

(The book) makes a considerable and commendable contribution to the interdisciplinary fields of Asian-American literary studies, Southeast Asian-American studies, and American cultural studies…. Treacherous Subjects confirms and extends the field’s multidisciplinary vistas by way of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American cultural production, which include film, literature, and popular culture…. (It) skillfully juxtaposes the divergent critical receptions of such work vis-à-vis domestic and internationalist politics.
—College Literature

Treacherous Subjects productively expand(s) the geographies of American literature by looking at not only discursive but also material circulations of women across oceans…. Duong offer(s) much food for thought in relation to feminism, cultural production, and the collisions of knowledge produced by area and ethnic studies…. (She) demonstrate(s) how writing and art mediates the construction of femininity on a transnational scale, where the former ‘third world’ is central to understanding current global processes of subjectivity and subjection.
—American Literature

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