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As a recipient of the Ben and Melinda Tria Kerkvliet Southeast Asia Research Award, Huyen Truong has been able to further her research into the LGBTIQ+ community in Vietnam.
Huyen hopes to explain why the Vietnamese LGBTIQ+ movement has enjoyed such success when other countries, which appear to be more liberal, have not progressed as much.
“I hope to provide an alternative explanation for the progress being made by the LGBTIQ+ movement in Vietnam in achieving improvement in social status,” says Huyen.
Huyen conducted her fieldwork in four different areas of Vietnam, over a three-month period, interviewing key persons from LGBTIQ+ organisations, the media, NGOs and Vietnamese state agencies.
As someone from Vietnam who has also lived and worked elsewhere, Huyen believes her background assisted her research.
“I am Vietnamese and have experienced more than ten years working with Vietnamese civil society organisations in Vietnam, yet I have also been living far from Vietnam for more than seven years.
“When I went back to Vietnam for my fieldwork, I felt that my insider-outsider status helped me greatly in building rapport with participants.”
Huyen says that receiving the award helped her achieve her ambitious research aims.
“I am very grateful to the Ben and Melinda Kerkvliet award. The funding has aided me to carry out three months of fieldwork in four different cities/provinces, including Hanoi, Hochiminh, Cantho and Haiphong.”
“I attended a number of events and activities organised by LGBTIQ+ activists at a local and national level. I collected documents from activists and organisations, and was able to cross-reference three methods to improve the reliability of the data: interviewing participants, document analysis and participant observation.”
Paul Kenny, who is Head of Department of Political and Social Change, says that Huyen’s research may help to shed light on the contradictions of the Vietnamese LGBTIQ+ movement.
“Huyen is undertaking some ambitious and highly impactful research on the LGBTIQ+ movement in Vietnam. Why Vietnam, a one-party state in which we would expect political dissent to be quickly silenced, has become a leading state for LGBTIQ+ rights in the region is a puzzle,” says Paul.
The Ben and Melinda Tria Kerkvliet Southeast Asia Research Award supports faculty and students in The Australian National University Department of Political and Social Change to do in-depth research in the Philippines and Vietnam.