Coethnic Boundary Making and Community Formation
My dissertation, “Cold War Coethnics: Nationhood and Belonging among Vietnamese Immigrants and Refugees in Berlin,” examines a singular case of parallel international migration and regime change. After the 1975 reunification of Vietnam, people unwilling to live in the newly-formed socialist country began to flee. Many resettled in West Berlin, which was encircled by East Germany. In 1980, Vietnamese from a second migration stream began to arrive in East Berlin on temporary labor contracts, in the name of socialist solidarity. Germany reunified a decade later, bringing these two groups of Vietnamese together under one national roof. This is the only instance in which coethnics who represent opposing sides of the Cold War divide have resettled en masse in the same destination. My comparative and historically-grounded qualitative inquiry draws on 81 interviews and 14 months of participant-observation in Vietnamese religious and social organizations across Berlin. I look at how refugees and contract workers encountered one another in reunified Berlin, and how these encounters play out today. In doing so, I show how Cold War logics have unsettled categories of shared identity, such as ethnicity, religion, and nationhood. Chapters of the dissertation appear in the Journal of Vietnamese Studies and in the volume, UnSichtbar. Vietnamesisch-Deutsche Wirklichkeiten.
Immigrant Political Incorporation
With political scientist Loan Kieu Le, I have investigated contexts that shape formal outcomes such as partisanship and voting. We argue that the wave-like characteristic of certain migration streams represents an opportunity for political imprinting. This work appears in the journal, Politics, Groups, and Identities, and in the volume, Minority Voting in the United States.