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Ben Tran


258 Buttrick Hall

Associate Professor of Asian Studies and English

Ben Tran is an Associate Professor of Asian Studies and English at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on the historical and cultural transformations of Vietnam from the French colonial period to contemporary globalization. His current research explores the relationship between Vietnam's socialist state and global capitalism, technologies of war and the environment, and global culture as translation. His first book, Post-Mandarin: Masculinity and Aesthetic Modernity in Colonial Vietnam, examines how the radical 1919 displacement of the 1000-year-old Chinese-influenced mandarinal system by a French baccalaureate curriculum created the conditions for modern Vietnamese literature. The book illuminates how European-educated natives assumed the intellectual authority of the mandarin by embracing European fields of knowledge, a new romanized alphabet, and print media—all of which were foreign and illegible to their fathers. The intellectuals central to this project revolutionized Vietnamese literature by critically observing colonial society through the modern lens of rationality and empiricism. This study contends that their liminal position as modern yet colonized intellectuals caused a masculine anxiety that underlies modern Vietnamese literature and its anticolonial tenets. He teaches classes in both Asian Studies and English, including racialization and capitalism, blackness and the Asian Century, the history and culture of the Third World movement, and cultural representations of the Vietnam War.