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Vietnam's Ethnic and Religious Minorities:

A Historical Perspective

Edited By Jörg Thomas Engelbert

The book deals with Vietnam’s ethnic and religious minorities in a historical perspective. The time frame stretches from the pre-colonial era to contemporary times. Except for one paper on the situation of the Vietnam-China border area, the authors focus on South or Southern Central Vietnam. The Chinese, the Cham and the Bahnar represent three different categories of ethnic minorities: the so-called Foreign Asians, the highly developed nationalities and the former tribal populations, who once lived at the margins. The Vietnamese and Highland Catholics as well as the French Protestants are two prominent religious minorities. The aim of this book is to contribute to a discussion about common features, categories and tasks, which transcend regional, ethnic or religious particularities and the familiar lowland-highland divide.

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Editor’s Preface


Four years have passed quickly … In June 2012, researchers from Germany, France, Russia and Australia met with each other in Hamburg to discuss the relationship between ethnic and religious minorities against the background of Vietnam’s history. At that time, the motto was: Are there lessons from history? The discussion soon went beyond that motto, if and how something could be learned from Vietnamese history and who would be the teacher or the student. The complexity of this topic soon led to the conclusion, that a case-by-case treatment was necessary. However, from the sum of the empirical evidence, certain preliminary conclusions can already be drawn, which are debated in the introduction.

Now, after a process of intensive discussion, careful reflexion and extensive revision, the results of the individual research will be presented here. Seven authors have developed their ideas, using historical and anthropological methods.

Li Tana wrote a fascinating contribution on the connections between Chinese merchants in Saigon and Hong Kong, which shows the close relationship and interdependence of both trading places during the late 19th century. The Chinese minority (Hoa) in Southern Vietnam, the majority population of Hong Kong and China, established this link.

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