'Children of the Buddha': Urban Buddhism and youth development in contemporary Vietnam

Research in Progress Seminar with Dr Dat Manh Nguyen
Thursday 9 Dec 2021, 13:00 - 14:00
Spoken Language
Online via Zoom
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Dat Manh Nguyen

In this Research in Progress Seminar,  Dat Manh Nguyen explores the roles and implications of Buddhist educational programmes for youth development in late-socialist Vietnam.

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of Buddhist programmes for youth in Ho Chi Minh City. These programmes, including weekly Buddhist educational activities, meditation retreats and volunteering/social engagement activities, are central to the efforts of urban monastics and lay youth to craft a youth-oriented Buddhism in Vietnam.

While these programmes are designed to attract the participation of young Vietnamese in Buddhism, they simultaneously respond to the socioeconomic aspirations and psychological needs of urban youth who endeavor to navigate the challenges of Vietnam’s market economy.

In this presentation, Dat Manh Nguyen explores the roles and implications of Buddhist educational programmes for youth development in late-socialist Vietnam. Drawing on interviews and ethnographic fieldwork from 2016 to 2019 in Ho Chi Minh City, Dat highlights the increasing centrality of religion and spirituality in young Vietnamese’s life experiences and the need to consider these factors in the study of youth in Vietnam.

About the speaker

Dr Dat Manh Nguyen is a postdoctoral researcher at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in the Netherlands. He holds a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology from Boston University.

His research focuses on religion, ethics, care, and war trauma in late-socialist, postwar Vietnam. His in-progress book manuscript, tentatively entitled Crafting a Buddhist Public: Urban Buddhism and Youth Aspirations in Late-Socialist Vietnam, explores the recent growth of Buddhist educational programmes for youth in Ho Chi Minh City and its implications for urban public life.

He has published part of his findings in the Journal of Vietnamese Studies and forthcoming in the Journal of Global Buddhism. At the NIOD, as part of the Bones of Contention project led by Dr Tam Ngo, his postdoctoral research examines the influence of religion on the discourses and practices of postwar remembrance and reconciliation in southern Vietnam.

He is also developing a second book project that investigates the provision of medical, psychological, and spiritual care for veterans and their families in postwar Vietnam.

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