I am a Ph.D candidate at the University of California, Riverside. My dissertation explores the political thought of five influential Vietnamese thought-leaders of the French colonial period in Vietnam (Phan Chu Trinh (1872-1926), Phan Van Truong (1876-1933), Pham Quynh (1892-1945), Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969), and Nguyen An Ninh (1900-1943)). I analyze their 1920s Vietnamese and French language writings, showing how they interpreted, challenged, and reworked "Western" ideas for their own ends. I show that there are many lessons for political theorists. My project is part of the exciting, emerging field of "comparative political theory" which seeks to explore political thought from outside the West.
My article, "Phan Chu Trinh's Democratic Confucianism," is forthcoming in The Review of Politics. In it, I show how Vietnam's first democrat, Phan Chu Trinh, romanticized Western liberalism and argued that its importation would revive Confucianism in Vietnam. Ultimately, Trinh shows us that theorists should not always fear cultural appropriation or creative misunderstandings of other traditions of political thought; indeed, misunderstandings themselves may be invigorating or instructive.
At the core, I am interested in how political ideas cross cultures, through time and space. I have published articles about how a French utopian novelist borrowed ideas from a Spanish-Incan writer, and about how the sixteenth-century French essayist Michel de Montaigne has influenced contemporary American political theory (forthcoming in Montaigne Studies).