What did Confucians do in a Changing Society? A Study of Confucian Cultural Practices in South Vietnam, 1955-1975

Apr 22, 2014 | 12:00 PM

Nguyen Tuan Cuong (Department of Literature, Vietnam National University-Hanoi; HYI Visiting Scholar)
Chair and Discussant: Hue-Tam Ho Tai (Kenneth T. Young Professor of Sino-vietnamese History, Department of History, Harvard University)

In the years 1955-1975, the ideological distinction between the two halves of Vietnam led to a difference in treatment for a core component of Vietnamese traditional culture: Confucianism. In North Vietnam (Democratic Republic of Vietnam), Confucianism was criticized, although not so severely as how it was in mainland China during the Cultural Revolution. South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam), on the contrary, promoted Confucianism by establishing various governmental institutions and cultural associations of Confucianism, to organize a large number of Confucian cultural practices, such as annual national ceremonies for Confucius’ birthday, building Temples of Confucius, public talks on Confucianism, and broadcasting Confucian contents on Saigon radio. By analyzing these cultural practices, this talk will discuss the multifaceted role of Confucianism in South Vietnam’s politics, culture, and society.