ANFEP 2013: Vietnam

ASIANetwork Faculty Enhancement Program (ANFEP)
Deepening Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts
Seminars in India, South Korea and Vietnam

“Vietnam: Consensus, Conflict, Contradiction, and Change”

June 14 – July 6, 2013

Director: Dr. Jack Harris, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

 2013 Vietnam Seminar: Tentative Itinerary

Friday, June 14, 2013 – Depart the United States. Arrive Vietnam Sunday, June 16, 2013.
Saturday, July 6, 2013 – Depart Ho Chi Minh City. Arrive US usually late the same day.

Through this study tour faculty will examine the complex history, culture and social relations of Vietnam that are the foundations of contemporary Vietnamese society. We will study an array of Vietnamese social institutions as they express consensus, conflict, contradiction, and change in forms of kinship and gender relations, rural village and urban life, religion, economy, education, and tribal and ethnic relations. Through exploring Vietnam’s legacy of conflict and colonialism, including the American/Vietnam war and its human social, political and environmental effects on the nation, we will see how the Vietnamese are seeking to reconcile and resolve the contradictions of socialist and capitalist theory and practice towards genuine rather than a fictive consensus. We will also examine Vietnam’s progress toward improving the lives of its citizens, how it is handling prosperity, and how it is positioning itself as a significant Southeast Asian political and economic force.

Our considerable travel around the country in both urban centers and the countryside will facilitate meeting Vietnamese and learning first-hand about historical and contemporary issues. At points along the way there will be time for tailored individual meetings or exploring. We will meet with scholars from several fields, and Vietnamese friends who will provide a warm entré into Vietnamese culture.

We will arrive in Hanoi – the traditional, intellectual, and ancient capital for the last several thousand years. We will become familiar with Hanoi’s vibrant ancient quarter, and sites such as the Temple of Literature, the Water Puppet Theater, and Hoa Lo prison. Expanding into the environs outside of Hanoi, we will visit villages with culturally significant pagodas and those where ancient crafts such as ceramics, paper and silk are practiced in much the same manner as centuries ago. We will experience the extraordinary and diverse geography of Vietnam through an excursion on Halong Bay, an overnight stay at Mai Chau sleeping at an old weaving village of homes on stilts surrounded by lush, terraced rice paddies, and a weekend in Sapa in the far north near the Chinese border known for its ethnic markets.

In Hanoi guest lectures will include subjects such as:

  • The History and Branches of Vietnamese Culture
  • The Life and Legacy of Ho Chi Minh
  • Social Class in Vietnam
  • Performing Arts – Tuong and Chao Theater
  • Education in Vietnam
  • Environmental Challenges facing Vietnam
  • Doing Business in Modern Vietnam
  • Women’s Issues in Modern Vietnam
  • The Ethnic Minorities of Central Vietnam
  • Traditional Vietnamese Medicine

There will also be extensive excursions in Hanoi and the northern region:

  • Walking Tour – Old Hanoi (“The Thirty-Six Streets”, old city gates, Dong Xuan market)
  • Tour of Hanoi (including Hoa Lo Prison, Van Mieu, and Hoan Kiem Lake)
  • Water Puppet Theater
  • Museum of Ethnography
  • Army Museum
  • Natural History Museum
  • Vietnam Woman’s Museum
  • Day Trip to Chua Huong (Perfume Pagoda)
  • Day Trip to Silk Village, Tay Pagoda and Thay Pagoda
  • Day Trip to Kho Temple and “Specialty Villages”—Bat Trang, Dong Key, Dong Ko
  • Day trip to Halong Bay
  • Overnight Trip to Mai Chau Village
  • Weekend trip to Sapa City and Bach Ha Market

As we travel south through the middle part of the country we will visit several significant sites:

  • In and near Danang: Cham Museum and Marble Mountain
  • In Hue: The Citadel, Perfume River trip and The Emperors’ Tombs, Chua Thien Mu
  • Hue Cooking Class at Nha Hang Tinh Gia Vien
  • Hoi An City — Old Town
  • Buon Ma Thuot

We will conclude our study tour in modern Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). It is considered young (at only 300 hundred years), hip, international and the vibrant economic hub of the country. We will tour the city and its markets by land and water, and visit several museums. We will take a Vietnamese cooking class with one of Vietnam’s most famous chefs. On our excursions outside of Saigon we will visit the unique Cu Chi Tunnels and the phantasmagorical Cao Dai temple, and we will stay overnight in a house on stilts over the water on the Mekong Delta.

In Ho Chi Minh City guest lectures will include subjects such as:

  • US Relations with Vietnam with the US Consul General
  • American Living in Saigon
  • The American War
  • Vietnamese Art and Culture performance
  • Vietnamese Cuisine
  • The Economy and Ecology of the Mekong Delta

There will also be extensive excursions in Ho Chi Minh City and the southern region:

  • Walking Tour of District 1, HCMC
  • An Insider’s Tour of HCMC
  • The War in Saigon: A Walking Tour (including the Presidential Palace, War Remnants Museum, and Ho Chi Minh City Museum)
  • Ho Chi Minh Museum at the old French Customs House
  • Tour of and discussion at US Consulate in HCMC
  • Day Trip to Cao Dai Temple, the village of “The Girl in the Picture,” and Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Overnight trip to the Mekong Delta
  • Vietnamese Cooking Class at Mint Culinary School

For questions, please contact Professor Ronnie Littlejohn, ASIANetwork Faculty Enhancement Program (ANFEP) Director, e-mail:, phone: at 615-460-6494.

Professor Jack Harris teaches sociology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Among his varied academic experiences abroad, Professor Harris has been Faculty Director of the Vietnam semester abroad program many times, led several faculty study tours to Vietnam, is leading an alumni tour to Vietnam August, 2012, and will direct the Fall Semester Abroad program with students in Fall, 2012. He has coordinated faculty members to lead the abroad program and, with their help, has developed it into a successful joint program with Union College. Professor Harris has served as presenter and respondent several times at the International Conference on Vietnamese Studies in Hanoi and has published papers on Vietnamese men’s studies in both Vietnam and in the United States. At Hobart and William Smith he currently serves as chair of the American Studies Program, director of the Civic Engagement and Service Learning minor, director of the men’s studies program, and is a member of the Asian language and cultures program.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation granting mission is to strengthen and sustain institutions and their core capacities, rather than be a source for narrowly defined projects. As such, they develop thoughtful, long-term collaborations with grant recipients and invest sufficient funds for an extended period to accomplish the purpose at hand and achieve meaningful results.

ASIANetwork, a consortium of approximately 150 North American colleges, strives to strengthen the role of Asian Studies within the framework of liberal arts education to help prepare succeeding generations of undergraduates for a world in which Asian societies play prominent roles in an ever more interdependent world.