Professor, Department of History
Affiliated Faculty, Asian Institute
Nhung Tuyet Tran is Associate Professor of History. Trained in Chinese legal history at the University of Pennsylvania and Southeast Asian social history at UCLA, Tran’s intellectual interests lie at the intersection of gender, law, and religion in early modern Vietnam. Her first book, Vietnam: Borderless Histories (Wisconsin 2006, co-edited with Tony Reid) problematizes contemporary narratives of Vietnamese history-writing. Tran’s second book, Familial Properties: Gender, State & Society in Early Modern Vietnam, 1460-1783 (Hawai’i, forthcoming 2013), which was based on her doctoral dissertation completed at UCLA, links the effects of the civil wars of the Mac-Trinh Nguyen period to women’s livelihoods in Vietnam, arguing that women’s individual strategies in times of economic need enabled them to wrestle local influence and prestige, in spite of state efforts to circumvent their influence. Tran is currently writing a monograph on the cultural history of Vietnamese Catholicism (1680-1783) in which she argues that Catholicism became a major Vietnamese religion through the adoption of low-class individuals. More recently, Tran has begun to study the Akhar Thrah script, a traditional script of the Cham peoples of Southern Vietnam, to interpret contracts between Cham women and Vietnamese in Central and Southern Vietnam. She has begun a research program that examines the transformation of Vietnamese property law from the establishment of the Lê Code (1460) to the final imperial code of the Nguyễn Dynasty (1812), with an eye to examining the impact of Cham constructions about property in Vietnamese law. The Canada Research Chair Secretariat, the Social Siences and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) have funded these research programs.
In addition to her research on early modern Vietnamese history, Tran is committed to public history and the relatioship between the production of history and development policy. To these ends, she has collaborated with the Vietnam Musem of Ethnology on an exhibit that explores Roman Catholic culture in contemporary Vietnam (2008-09) and is currently working with the Vietnam Women’s Museum on planned historical exhibits. She has led a team of researchers for the United nations Development Fund (UNDP) in a study that measures women’s access to land rights accross ten provinces in Vietnam (2011-12).
At the University of Toronto, Tran teaches undergraduate survey courses on Southeast Asian and Vietnamese histories, and comparative courses on Southeast Asian food history; and gender and sexuality in East and Southeast Asia. In 2012, she took a class of undergraduates to Vietnam as a part of the International Course Module of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Tran teaches graduate courses on religion and society in Southeast Asia and prepares graduate students for fields in the study of early modern and modern Southeast Asia and Vietnamese histories.
She currently serves on the Southeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies.