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diaCRITICS is a blog that showcases art, literature, and stories from writers, artists, and culture-makers of the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian diaspora, on and from all shores. Its founding editor and publisher is Viet Thanh Nguyen.
diaCRITICS is a project of the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network. DVAN’s mission is to promote stories from the Vietnamese diaspora, to increase understanding about the diversity and complexities of our experiences and imaginaries across national boundaries.
diaCRITICS is also a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books. LARB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and disseminating rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts. The LARB Channels are a community of wholly independent online magazines specializing in fiction, poetry, literary criticism, politics, science, religion, and culture, supported by the Los Angeles Review of Books.
diaCRITICS highlights art, literature, and stories from writers, artists, and culture-makers of the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian diaspora, on and from all shores.
We celebrate the diasporic identity as fluid and ever-evolving, by featuring compelling contemporary voices from across the diaspora.
We celebrate the diasporic identity as multi-storied, many-voiced, complex, and diverse, harboring many intersections and hybridities, including mixed-race and mixed-cultural experiences, and persons of all sexualities, genders, and abilities.
We understand that identity and expression are often multi-faceted, especially for diasporic artists who work with and under a unique double burden, and we greatly admire work that delineates its own shape, creates its own modalities, and challenges our thinking, as well our sense of boundaries and possibilities.
We publish reviews, essays, interviews, profiles, and original creative work including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, hybrid genres, image-text, multimedia, photography, visual art, comics, and more. We embrace experimentation.
We also recognize that although many of us are dispersed in the diaspora, we are still collective. We may be scattered but we honor our connectedness, despite distances and differences. We wish to share our differences and communicate across our distances.
For us, the diaspora is a community that is global, not centralized, nor adhered to any single dominant geography. But of course, we still hold close the irreplaceable significance of our (or our families’) places of origin.
diaCRITICS was initiated by writers with roots in Vietnam. However, we recognize that our Vietnamese roots and stories spill into, draw from, co-mingle with, do not exist without, other countries’ stories, just as our motherland’s borders touch other borders, and so this blog also makes space for voices and stories from all of the Southeast Asian diaspora, and may extend into the Asian diaspora and/or address current diasporic concerns at large. We aim to write about diasporic matters that are relevant, both of now and the past.
Within the word ‘diaspora’ there is movement (‘across’) and at the root of the action (‘scattering’) there is spora (‘seed’). Therein lie the dynamics of our diaspora.
The word ‘diacritics’ refers to the accent markings (‘dấu’) used to discern tones and word-meanings in the written Vietnamese language. Ma is ghost. Má is mother. Differences can be both subtle and crucial.
diaCRITICS are also the bloggers for this site.
Another definition of diaspora
But what, really, is a diaspora? It comes from Jewish history. The Jews were cast out of their homeland and formed a Diaspora of people scattered over many countries. Now there are many Diasporas, driven out for all kinds of reasons. The Vietnamese Diaspora is where it is mostly because Viet Nam was occupied by the French, then occupied by Americans, then divided in two, then reunified into one at great cost to the other. Other Southeast Asian countries like Laos and Cambodia were also significantly affected by these events. So now we have Vietnamese and Southeast Asians in the United States, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Israel, England, Russia and many more countries. Basically we have Vietnamese all over the world. For some, Viet Nam is always home. For some, the country where they’re at is home. For some, they will never go home. For some, the whole world is home. We are interested in representing stories that acknowledge the vast range of multiplicities and definitions of home and diaspora.
Semantics & Credits
Language is our foremost vessel for sharing stories. Yet we recognize language need not always be conducted via words. Nor does it need always be a common language.
Our blog is multilingual. We write in English, Vietnamese, French, in blends and translations, in images, song sometimes, and also with the breath and textures of the spaces in-between. We are open to publishing in all languages that express our diaspora.
You can write in any language you wish when you comment, but no insults, obscenities, personal attacks, flame wars or other rude behavior will be tolerated.
The Other Diacritic
We wish to acknowledge the artist Richard Streitmatter-Tran who was the first diacritic in our diasporic circle, and whose website diacritic.org used the word “diacritic” before our site did. Richard Streitmatter-Tran is a reputed and accomplished artist living and working in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He received his degree in the Studio for Interrelated Media (SIM) at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston.