Southeast Asia Studies Seminar Program
The MacMillan Center at Yale University
Apr 17, 2013

"Ho Chi Minh and Children: (De)Constructing Narratives of Love and Devotion"

Olga Dror, Associate Professor of History, Texas A&M University

 

"Who loves children as much as Uncle Ho Chí Minh does,

Who loves Uncle Ho Chí Minh as children do?"

These lines from a song by a famous Vietnamese composer Phan Huynh Dieu encapsulate the story of love and devotion between Ho Chí Minh and Vietnamese children. In my talk I will explore how the narrative of this relationship developed using various texts published in Vietnam before 1975. The process of forging this bond mirrors the changing values and new identities that were understood as the transition from past to future in North Vietnam. I will explore the construction of Ho Chí Minh's cult among the youth by adults and the youth response to the cult.

Olga Dror was born and raised in Leningrad in the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics. She received an M.A. in Oriental Studies from Leningrad State University in 1987. She then pursued advanced studies at the Institute for Linguistic Studies in the Academy of Sciences, Moscow, as well as worked as correspondent, translator, editor, and anchor for Radio Moscow's Department of Broadcasting to Vietnam. In 1990, she immigrated to Israel, where she continued advanced study at Hebrew University studying International Relations and worked in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, serving as Consul and Administrative Officer for the Israeli Embassy to the Baltic States in Riga, Latvia, from 1994 to 1996. She then went back to the study of Vietnam and obtained her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2003. Presently she is an associate professor of History at Texas A & M University. Her interest until rather recently focused on Vietnamese and Chinese religions and she published a monograph and two edited volumes on the subject. Currently she works on identities of Vietnamese children during the war in Vietnam (1965-1975).

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