East Asia

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 25–41 | Cite as

From Spiritual Homes to National Shrines: Religious Traditions and Nation-Building in Vietnam

  • Edyta RoszkoEmail author


As in China and Soviet Russia, religion in Vietnam was considered to be harmful superstition. However, a glimpse into the Governmental Gazette – Công Báo – displays the important transformation of the state’s policy toward religion that became translated into national representation. While this article focuses on nation-building as a dynamic cultural process that leads to the promotion of selected religious practices as ‘national heritage,’ it also explores the state-society relationship beyond binaries. By looking at religious spaces and local communities I argue that in Vietnam religion is a powerful form of nation-building process and constitutes a creative space in which different actors exercise their agency beyond resistance and accommodation.


Cultural heritage Nation-building National heritage Religious traditions Vietnamese modernity 



Research in the National Library of Vietnam (Hanoi) for this article was supported by the grant of the Polish Ministry of Education and Sport in 2005. Fieldwork on Lý Sơn Island was made possible thanks to the doctoral grant of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. I also would like to thank the Center of Asia-Pacific Area Studies, Academia Sinica which provided support, both in terms of office space and library resources. Additionally, I am indebted to Kirsten Endres for drawing my attention to the Công Báo documents during our discussion in Hanoi 2004. I am also grateful to Claire Sutherland for her editorial work on this issue, and to Oscar Salemink and two anonymous reviewers for East Asia for their excellent comments on a previous version of this article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Social AnthropologyHalleGermany

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