Between Memories and Taboos: The Formation of Alternative Vietnamese and Myanmarese Spaces of Citizenship and Belonging

  • Franziska Susana Nicolaisen (Autor/in)
  • Mirjam Le (Autor/in)
  • Mandy Fox (Autor/in)


In the postcolonial states of Southeast Asia, governments weaponize their histories to create spaces of legitimate memories for nation-building processes. Local identities that do not conform to the official historiography are silenced. Beyond these state-sanctioned boundaries, however, alternative practices of remembrance are upheld that can challenge the state to produce different forms of belonging, identity, and citizenship. This paper analyzes the creation of opposing spaces of memory and belonging. The case studies include the struggle for meaning and identity between the State of Myanmar and the local population in Rakhine State as well as the inclusion and exclusion of the memory of war in Vietnam and the Vietnamese diaspora in Germany. Governments in Myanmar and Vietnam use their respective histories to create patterns of continuity and exclude those defined as outsiders. Memories of local struggles are maintained, practiced, and even celebrated in local communities and the diaspora. Hereby, we point to practices that maintain excluded memories and enable alternative forms of belonging and citizenship to endure.


Myanmar, Vietnam, citizenship, memories, belonging, nation-building, Rhakine, Rohingya, diaspora, Sino-Vietnamese war