Vietnamese Foodways and Viet Kieu Postmemory in Clément Baloup's Graphic Narratives

in European Comic Art
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  • 1 Illinois State University jthowel@ilstu.edu
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In recent years, more attention has been paid to the cultural contributions of the Vietnamese diaspora as its representatives become better integrated in French and American society. To continue shedding light on this community, the present article explores the efforts of a French cartoonist of Vietnamese heritage, Clément Baloup, who uses postmemorial narrative in comics to transcribe and transmit the varied experiences of the overseas Vietnamese of the '1.5 generation'. While challenging current understandings of transnationalism, hybridisation and patterns of acculturation, this article demonstrates the value of studying the cultural signifier highlighted in Baloup's creations – ethnic foodways, which are sometimes deemed insignificant on account of their associated biological functions. I argue that foodways are symbolically important because they determine insider/outsider status with respect to the group, they facilitate interpersonal communication and the act of testifying and their significance is constantly evolving to reflect new sociopolitical contexts and environments.

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