Downloading Heritage: Vietnamese Diaspora Online by I. Williams (2002)

Media in Transition: globalization and convergence, international conference date: 10-12 May 2002, Comparative Media Studies 14N-207 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139


Downloading Heritage: Vietnamese Diaspora Online

By I. Williams


This paper was presented at MIT2 to introduce a work in progress that will expand on conceptualising the adopted Vietnamese forming as a diaspora in cyberspace.


Global communication via the Internet has created a bridge across space and time bringing nations and communities into real time interactions. The construction of Internet based communities has opened up a new frontier for negotiating relationships and expressions of culture and identity.

This is demonstrated by looking the transnational/trans-cultural/trans-racial position of Vietnamese orphans who were separated from their country, culture, language and heritage at birth during the Vietnam War. In a humanitarian military exercise known as Operation Babylift, thousands of orphans were evacuated from Vietnam just before the ‘fall’ of Saigon. As babies they were dispersed across America, Australia, Canada and Europe.

Now young adults, they have recently begun to engage in transnational activism by developing cyber communities to reconcile and reconnect with their origins. This paper will investigate the history of Vietnamese adoption, its consequences and challenges. It will then explore the emerging developments of their Vietnamese identity building replacing tradition, creating a form of “e-heritage”.