Kelly Nguyen

Kelly Nguyen
2020-2021 GRADUATE FELLOW

Biography

Kelly Nguyen is a sixth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Classics. Her dissertation,“Vercingetorix in Vietnam: Classical Inheritance and Vietnamese Ambivalence,” explores the negotiation of Western imperialism, as mediated by Greco-Roman antiquity, by French-educated Vietnamese communities from the late-19th to the mid-20th century. The project investigates the various roles of Greco-Roman antiquity in Vietnam: as a tool of imperialism justifying mission civilisatrice, as a gatekeeper safeguarding the colonial hierarchy, as a threat to the survival of Sino-Vietnamese humanities, and as an intermediary between the cultures of the colonizer and the colonized. By examining these different roles in tandem and in tension with Vietnamese interculturality, this project demonstrates how Vietnamese political and intellectual leaders used their Classical education to negotiate their changing identities and create spaces for themselves within their colonial reality—spaces that often conflicted with each other. Deviating from conventional Classical reception, this project does not argue for the creation of a new tradition, but rather the subversion and suppression of a Eurocentric Classical tradition.