Life courses of Amerasians in Vietnam: a qualitative analysis of emotional wellbeing

Bernice Ho, Susan Bartels, Sabine Lee

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Abstract

The Vietnam War left a legacy of mixed-race children fathered by American or other foreign soldiers and born to Vietnamese mothers. These Vietnamese Amerasian children often had difficulty integrating into their post-conflict societies due to stigmatization and they were typically economically disadvantaged. To address the paucity of knowledge about life courses of Amerasians who remained in Vietnam, we used SenseMaker®, a mixed methods data collection tool, to interview adult Amerasians living in Vietnam. Qualitative analysis of first-person narratives categorized by participants as being about “emotions” identified five major themes: discrimination, poverty, identity, the importance of family, and varying perceptions of circumstances. Experiences of discrimination were broad and sometimes systemic, affecting family life, the pursuit of education, and employment opportunities. Poverty was also an overarching theme and was perceived as a barrier to a better life, as a source of misery, and as a source of disempowerment. The resulting cycle of poverty, in which under-educated, resource-constrained Amerasians struggled to educate their own children, was evident. The negative emotional impact of not knowing one’s biological roots was also significant. Although there was a decrease in perceived stigma over time and some Amerasians were satisfied with their current lives, years of experiencing discrimination undoubtedly negatively impacted emotional well-being. The results highlight a need for community programs to address stigmatization and discrimination and call for support in facilitating international searches for the biological fathers of Vietnamese Amerasians.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVNU Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • Amerasian
  • children
  • Vietnam
  • war
  • identity

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