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The Seeds of Turmoil
January 16, 2020 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Huế’s “People of the Pagoda” and the Buddhist Mobilization of 1963
Nguyễn Dịu Hương
This presentation reconstructs the historical atmosphere of the Summer 1963 Buddhist mobilization in central Viet Nam’s royal city of Huế through close-up descriptions of those events based on what was considered significant
by its participants and supporters. Glancing through the lens of “social movement theory” I assert that this short-lived mass movement created collective identities for ordinary lay Buddhists – “People of the Pagoda”, they styled themselves – and had strong and persistent impacts on their individual lives. By emphasizing the personal, human experience of local residents using their eyewitness accounts, I attempt to illuminate how such momentous happenings affected Huế’s social and cultural life as the mobilization spread turmoil through the city. This bottom-up, grassroots approach seeks to remedy the twin imbalances of Western-centered and Vietnamese government-issued narratives in the Viet Nam War’s historiography.