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Instructor: Nguyễn Quang Dũng
Date: 16 June – 07 July 2019
Time: 3 – 6.30pm
Language: Vietnamese only

The Factory is pleased to host, for the first time to non-academic participants, an  educational program, by Nguyen Quang Dung, Ph.D., titled ‘Visualizing Vietnam in contemporary Southeast Asia – A comparative and visual approach’.

What constitutes a ‘Southeast Asia’? Logically it entails geographic and cultural differentiations and synergies, but how is a ‘Vietnam’ situated within this geopolitical term? What are the particular characters and conditions of Vietnam that identifies itself as part of ‘Southeast Asia’? In recent global contemporary art discourse, Southeast Asia is a concept and geography of increasing critical interest to museums, collectors, curators, historians, and art writers, however, also provoking controversy. Similarly the contemporary artists across this region are also researching each other’s interdisciplinary histories, uncovering shared narratives and rituals little known before. What happens when we look at this region from an approach of visual anthropology and sociology with a comparative and interdisciplinary method — could this approach contribute to effective solutions for social, cultural and economic dilemmas that are similarly shared between us?



Utilizing an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, this 6-session course will provide insight into current issues across Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, ranging from societal characteristics, political frameworks, civil society, social movements, gender landscapes, religious extremism and secularism,  foreign relations among Southeast Asian states, environmental issues, social marginality, and cultural identity in relation to modernity.

Through photography, filmography, new media, and other visual representations, this course investigates and problematizes the visual portrayals of history, culture and contemporary societies in Southeast Asia, with a focus on Vietnam. Concurrently, the course will consider the interweaving of cultural identities, historical processes of development, and many socio-political issues in Southeast Asian societies; while also introducing students to important visual works that have shaped discussions on Vietnam’s development and identity.

Time: 3 – 5:30pm, every Saturday afternoon starting from June 16 to 7 July
Language: Vietnamese (with intermediate-level English is required for certain reading materials and presentations)


Detail scheduled:

Session 1 (June 16): SOUTHEAST ASIA, what’s in a name? Insights into Vietnamese identity in the regional context
Session 2 (June 22): Environmental issues in Southeast Asia
Session 3 (June 23): Collective Sentiment and Actions, from Facebook to Activism
Session 4 (June 30): Religion in Southeast Asian societies
Session 5 (July 06): Re-imagine Vietnam’s gender landscape amidst various perspectives
Session 6 (July 07): Cinema: Insights into Society (case study of Vietnam and Thailand)



-Anyone with an interest in contemporary culture and society of Southeast Asia is eligible;
-Priority is given to students with a love for knowledge and a keen desire to improve critical thinking skills and develop an interdisciplinary, comparative framework;
-Intermediate level English preferred as reading sources are in English.



Differing from academic courses in a university, this course will take advantage of visual sources  such as film, photography, online visual archives and new media along with articles, essays, presentations related to session themes. Thus, course participants are occasionally required to read the materials (some of them will be in basic English) or watch a film before class. Through group discussions, mind maps, and presentations throughout the course, participants will practice and sharpen their critical thinking skills, thinking out-of-the-box, thinking beyond the descriptive level. They will be asked to relate to the topics by asking questions of How? Why? (as opposed to just what?) in order to grasp the implications and read between-the-line of a reading, a film or a photograph.

After the course, participants will have received a comprehensive introduction to contemporary Southeast Asia. They will also know how to articulate arguments clearly and think critically of what makes up Southeast Asia, engage intellectually with ongoing debates and discussions on social, political, economic, religious and environmental issues in these societies, and the history and culture of Southeast Asia as a region.

This course is initiated as a ‘Reading Room’ program of The Factory, participants are encouraged to make use of all the resources on site,  where an array of diverse, valuable materials related to different forms of art and culture of Vietnam, Southeast Asia, Asia and the world are accessible.


The ancient saying “Độc thư cầu lý” teaches us to read carefully and with great depth in order to understand the truth in things and people; while “Lý dĩ chiếu nhân tâm” embraces that only the truth has the power to enlighten humanity. Reading can help nurture the soul and cultivate the heart, enabling us to gather more knowledge and experiences to strengthen the four basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. To help readers read, research and filter information in a more productive and meaningful way, “Bookworm” – our series of curated public programs, as part of the Reading Room – have teamed up with Thư Quán Cội Việt (Cội Việt Public Library) to create a series of workshops, offering both basic and advanced skill-based instructions, and insights on how to encourage, nurture and sustain our love for reading.

*Participants of the event allow The Factory and co-organizer (if applicable) to use their images and statements as documentary for the program, for non-commercial purposes such as: archive, press, media, promotion on our website, Facebook etc