Since the country’s economic reform in 1986, Vietnamese television has experienced a tremendous shift from a purely propagandist tool of the Party-State into an all-pervasive medium of popular culture. The dynamics of Vietnamese television, however, are completely neglected in the field of international television studies, shadowed by the Western assumption of Vietnam being an oppressed land without media freedom. In her forthcoming book, Dr Giang Nguyen-Thu seeks to challenge such reductionist assumptions to reveal the effects of popular television in recreating the sense of national belonging in Vietnam. This book explores how various genres of popular television, including television dramas, talk shows and reality shows, alter the way Vietnamese people make sense of and organize their post-Reform lives, and how these new genres enable new condition of cultural oppression as well as political engagement. In sharp contrast to the previous image of Vietnam as a war-torn land, post-Reform Vietnamese television conjures into being a new sense of national belonging based on an implicit refusal of the socialist past, hopes on peace and marketization, and anxieties of the globalized future.
Dr. Giang Nguyen-Thu finished her doctoral study at the University of Queensland in 2016, and is now a lecturer of media studies at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi. Her book Television in Post-Reform Vietnam: Nation, Media, Market is to be published by Routledge in 2018. She is now interested in the emotional politics of social media in Vietnam. Her current research investigates how Vietnamese mothers use Facebook to navigate in an emerging economy of precarity caused by the widespread panic related to environment and food toxicity. Similar to her works on Vietnamese television, this research is informed by Giang’s interest in cultural globalization as situated mediation processes between global logics and local concerns, whose effects much excess the way the Western world often imagines of the Vietnamese media environment.
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