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“Fleshing Out Her Ghosts”: A Hauntological Analysis of Nước (Water/Homeland)


“Fleshing Out Her Ghosts”: A Hauntological Analysis of Nước (Water/Homeland)

Luong, Son-Nam R. (2022) “Fleshing Out Her Ghosts”: A Hauntological Analysis of Nước (Water/Homeland). Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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This thesis examines Quyên Nguyễn-Lê’s experimental short film Nước (Water/Homeland) (2016) to explore how traces of U.S. militarism still haunt the Vietnamese refugee diaspora, specifically as ghosts that linger in everyday life and visual culture. The short film—drawing its title from the Vietnamese word nước, meaning both “water” and “homeland” (or “country” and “nation”)—depicts the everyday silences of a Vietnamese American refugee family as they struggle to navigate the losses that have formed from the processes of forced displacement and resettlement. These losses, from a homeland, family history, and shared language, among other registers of grief and melancholia, sustain intergenerational gaps in which incomplete stories and stereotypical images about the Vietnamese come to stand in their place. This thesis draws from sociologist Grace Cho’s notion of “fleshing out the ghost,” an analytic approach that aims to expose the fictional details of what is oftentimes misconstrued as sociological fact, to expose the invisible hand of U.S. militarism since the Vietnam War refugee exodus. Vietnamese refugees, often depicted as passive objects of humanitarian rescue, have been used to refashion the (inter)national image of the U.S. from an aggressor to a caregiver in the postwar era. Through a hauntological analysis of American visual culture, the following fleshes out the ghosts of the Vietnamese “model minority” in photography, “sex worker” in cinema, and “boat people” in the archives to critique how these stereotypical figures have been produced by the violent contradictions of so-called U.S. freedom, protection, and inclusion. Despite the official conclusion of the Vietnam War, this thesis ultimately argues that Nước (Water/Homeland) depicts how the ghosts of the Vietnamese refugee diaspora can expose the concealed presence and the ongoing effects of U.S. militarism in everyday life.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Luong, Son-Nam R.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:December 2022
Thesis Supervisor(s):Chew, May
ID Code:991722
Deposited By: Son-Nam R. Luong
Deposited On:21 Jun 2023 14:21
Last Modified:21 Jun 2023 14:21
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