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Duy Nguyen

Duy Lap Nguyen

Assistant Professor
World Cultures and Literatures
620 Agnes Arnold Hall
Phone: 713-743-2519
View CV


  • Ph.D. University of California, Irvine – Comparative Literature, 2012
  • B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz

Research Interests

  • Critical theory, visual Studies, Vietnamese studies, world cinema and literature



The Unimagined Community: Imperialism and Culture in South Vietnam (Manchester University Press, February 2020). 

The Unimagined Community  proposes a fundamental reexamination of the Vietnam War from a perspective that has been largely excluded from historical accounts of the conflict, that of the South Vietnamese. Challenging the conventional view that the war was a struggle between the Vietnamese people and US imperialism, the study presents a wide-ranging investigation of South Vietnamese culture, from political philosophy and psychological warfare to popular culture and film. Beginning with a genealogy of the concept of a Vietnamese “culture,” as the latter emerged during the colonial period, the book concludes with a reflection on the rise of popular culture during the American intervention. Reexamining the war from the South Vietnamese perspective, The unimagined community pursues the provocative thesis that the conflict, in this early stage, was not an anti-communist crusade, but a struggle between two competing versions of anticolonial communism.

Tiếng Dân
Journal of Asian Studies

“A wide-ranging work of original historical research, critical theory, and cultural criticism, this volume by Nguyen (Univ. of Houston) reexamines the political and cultural history of the Vietnam War from the largely excluded perspective of the South Vietnamese. Disputing the widely held representation of the war as a contest between Vietnamese people and US imperialism, The Unimagined Community provocatively argues that, in its early stage, the war was not an anti-communist crusade but a struggle between two competing versions of anti-colonial communism. Providing an extended analysis of the culture of the early South Vietnamese republic, ranging from its political philosophy and psychological warfare to its popular culture and films, the book deftly shows that the war was a contest between two Vietnamese states that embraced two different conceptions of communism: one based on the dictatorship of the proletariat and the other on socialism without the state. Nguyen convincingly argues that in its nine years of existence, the early South Vietnamese state sought to establish a Marxist, humanist nation that favored a stateless form of democracy and rural autonomy-a remarkable political experiment against both capitalism and liberal democracy.”
(Reprinted with permission from Choice Reviews. All rights reserved. Copyright by the American Library Association.) Y. L. Espiritu, University of California San Diego 

Walter Benjamin and the Critique of Political Economy: A New Historical Materialism (under contract with Bloomsbury Press Critical Theory in Contemporary Society Series)

This project proposes a reading of the relationship between the messianic conception of  history developed in Walter Benjamin’s writings and Karl Marx’s critique of political  economy. 

Journal Articles

Book Reviews

  • Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism.” ( Russian Journal of Communication, Vol. 6, Issue 2, 2014).
  • “Arcades.” Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2nd Edition. London: Wiley-Blackwell (accepted).


  • Introduction to World Cinema