Transnational Life Trajectories and the Notion of Return. German-Born Vi<U+1EC7>t Ki<U+1EC1>u (Overseas Vietnamese) Travelling to Their Ancestral Homeland
Müller, Max – 2021
Based on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Berlin and Vietnam, this paper traces the life trajectories of a group of German-born children of Vietnamese migrants back to their ancestral homeland. Building on the concepts of return and diaspora tourism, it will be shown how the research participants, despite being born and socialised in Germany, intimately engage with Vietnam through return visits since their early childhood in the 1990s. Nevertheless, these returns are often emotionally highly ambivalent experiences, ranging from the hope of ethnic belonging to the returnee’s perception of being perceived as cultural naïve strangers in Vietnam. By describing the ups and downs of this ancestral return experience continuum, I will show how the returnee’s experiences and their perceptions of non/belonging seem to be highly gendered. While many young women feel estranged by curfews and the controlling attitude of their families, many young men engage with Vietnam through parties, alcohol and prostitution, fostering in them a sense of belonging.