Catholic Vietnam: A Church from Empire to Nation by Charles Keith

By Charles Keith

In this crucial new learn, Charles Keith explores the complicated place of the Catholic Church in glossy Vietnamese background. through demonstrating how French colonial rule allowed for the transformation of Catholic missions in Vietnam into large and robust financial and institutional constructions, Keith discovers the methods race outlined ecclesiastical and cultural status and keep watch over of assets and institutional authority. This, in addition to colonial rule itself, created a tradition of spiritual lifestyles within which relationships among Vietnamese Catholics and eu missionaries have been much less equivalent and extra fractious than ever ahead of. even though, the colonial period additionally introduced remarkable ties among Vietnam and the transnational associations and tradition of worldwide Catholicism, as Vatican reforms to create an self sufficient nationwide Church helped Vietnamese Catholics to reimagine and redefine their relationships to either missionary Catholicism and to colonial rule itself. very similar to the myriad progressive ideologies and struggles within the identify of the Vietnamese state, this revolution in Vietnamese Catholic existence was once eventually ambiguous, even contradictory: it tested the rules for an autonomous nationwide Church, however it additionally polarized where of the recent Church in post-colonial Vietnamese politics and society and produced deep divisions among Vietnamese Catholics themselves.

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Extra info for Catholic Vietnam: A Church from Empire to Nation

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1 There were also small communities in non-­kinh regions to the west and north of Nam Định and Thanh Hóa and around Kontum in the central highlands. However, missionaries did not encounter most people in upland areas until the mid-­ nineteenth century or later, and geography, low population density, and language differences made it difficult to evangelize in these regions. Even by the 1930s, non-­ kinh peoples were probably no more than thirty thousand of a Catholic population that by then was well over a million.

S ou r ces a n d Te r m i n o l o g y This work rests on three main bodies of sources. The records of the French colonial and protectorate administrations in Vietnam, held in Aix-­en-­Provence, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City, include documentation that ranges from the Ministry of Colonies to municipal administrations. Despite its well-­known limitations, this material sheds light on a wide range of issues: Church-­state relations; the economic, legal, and political standing of Catholic missions; Catholic schools, institutions of social welfare, and associations; communitarian relations; surveillance of Catholic individuals, groups, and press organs; and others.

During the first two centuries of evangelization in these regions, fluid social structures and low population density made conversions in Co­chin­china fewer and less communally based than they were in Annam or Tonkin. At the time of the Nguyễn defeat of the Tây Sơn in 1802, far fewer Catholics in Co­chin­ china lived in tightly clustered socioreligious units than in Annam or Tonkin. 21 This first meant that many Catholic population centers were further dispersed, not concentrated. However, continued violence in the two decades preceding the French invasion helped concentrate many Catholics around large towns such as Saigon, where many Catholics from southern provinces fled in the 1850s and early 1860s.

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