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Welcome to the Family!: Hospitality, Kinship, and Mourning in Vietnamese Diasporic Literature


"Welcome to the Family!: Hospitality, Kinship, and Mourning in Vietnamese Diasporic Literature" is a comparative study of Vietnamese immigration that focuses on the representation of adoption and sponsorship through the respective figures of the war orphan/unaccompanied minor and the family member left behind in Viet Nam through a reconsideration of hospitality and kinship. As privileged yet complicated forms of displacement and family formation, adoption and sponsorship provide significant and distinct articulations of the refugee because they reconfigure the relationship of immigrant-guest to include kinship affiliations. By including the dynamic of kinship alongside the immigrant and refugee as a guest, I consider the moments where adoption and sponsorship as ways of family formation and nation building too often fail. Furthermore, the recurring failure of both adoptee and sponsored to assimilate and integrate into the host family and nation, I contend, allow for and serve as critiques of American multiculturalism and French republicanism and the demands of gratitude and debt exerted by such inclusion via kinship. Examining contemporary writers Aimee Phan, Bharati Mukherjee, Monique Truong, Angie Chau, and Linda L�, the dissertation explores how Vietnamese diasporic narratives in English and French treat the breakdown of the family to question and work against dominant figures of the model minority and the ever-grateful refugee. These works challenge the imposed discourses of gratitude and hospitality to consider how such failure of the adoptive and sponsored family may provide expression for the loss of family and homeland and provide possible mourning of such neoliberal trauma. I engage with critical adoption studies’ sociological critique of American Cold War policies and critical refugee studies’ reappropriation of the displaced refugee who enacts his/her own politics by approaching the understudied Vietnamese diasporic literature through a humanistic and comparative transnational lens. Therefore, my dissertation proposes a reading of the Vietnamese diaspora through the distinct configurations of the adoptee.

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