Gender, affect, and landscape: wartime films from Northern and Southern Vietnam
Abstract Examining two Vietnamese films, one made in the North in 1959, and another produced in the South during the American War in 1971, this article contends that Vietnam’s landscape serves as an affective site for a gendered construction of nationalism within key moments in Vietnamese history. In analyzing the attachments that the Vietnamese and Vietnamese diaspora feel towards their country, I explore a topic rarely discussed in US film scholarship and historicize these filmmaking efforts to demarcate a different way of viewing Vietnam in film. This study demonstrates the importance of understanding how gender and affect are projected onto landscapes in a national cinema like Vietnam’s. More exactingly, it emphasizes that affects underlying Vietnamese nationhood and war are undergirded by the political economy of film and filmmaking. My arguments point to the modes of production and circulation of film, which shape the making of affect in Vietnam War discourse. My analyses are framed by the questions: How is affect inscribed in Vietnamese film, and what are its effects on notions of belonging and nationhood? In what ways has affect traveled about Vietnam in the past and present moment? Who is able to access such representations, and why does this matter?
Keywords: Vietnam War, diaspora, nationalism, performance, affect, war, power, culture, capital, circulation, production, feminism
Lan Duong is Associate Professor in the Media and Cultural Studies Department at UC Riverside. She is the author of Treacherous Subjects: Gender, Culture, and Trans-Vietnamese Feminism (Temple University Press, 2012). Dr. Duong’s second book project, Transnational Vietnamese Cinemas: Imagining Nationhood in a Globalized Era, examines the history of Vietnamese cinema. Duong’s essays can be found in the Journal of Asian American Studies, Asian Cinema, Discourse, and Transnational Feminism in Film and Media. Her most recent work is an edited anthology called Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora: Troubling Borders in Literature and Art (University of Washington Press, December 2013).