Woodside, Alexander. 1971. Vietnam and the Chinese Model: A Comparative Study of Vietnamese and Chinese Government in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Alexander Woodside examines how Confucian institutions were adopted and adapted by 19th century Nguyen Vietnam. Woodside then catalogs and compares the institutions in Vietnam and China and documents the reasons why Vietnam does not exactly replicate Chinese and Confucian characteristics. The five chapters examine themes of acculturation, civil administration, court bureaucrats and provincial administration, and education and exams. Among the tremendous details of bureaucratic, administrative, and educational comparisons between Vietnam and China, Woodside demonstrates how the local variants of Confucian systems in Vietnam. He concludes that these differences were due to the problem of scale and relative size of Vietnam to China (too many administrative units for too small a space), the cultural diversity and distance between bureaucrats and peasants, and the simplification and translation of Confucian bureaucracy as a coherent system. ( “VN regional differentiation 1)variety of environments, agriculture, and settlement 2)little cultural standardization at village level, varied village traditions 3) 16th-19th century N v. C S different political units 4) movement south and diff backgrounds” )Woodside characterizes these aspects into the abstract themes of 1) pattern saturation, 2) cultural parallelisms (such as dual monarchy of hoang de and vua), 3) environmental-institutional tensions, and 4) divergences in social structure and resources.
- does not necessarily differentiate between China & Confucian
- overemphasis on Ming Mang rule and sources and false representation of whole Nguyen dynasty
- ambiguity in SEA features in VN – what are the underlying VN-ness?
- mistaking bureaucratic texts for social reality and perpetuating Nguyen historical invention of Confucianism
Kelley, Liam C. 2006. “‘Confucianism’ in Vietnam: A State of the Field Essay.” Journal of Vietnamese Studies 1 (1-2): 314–70. doi:10.1525/vs.2006.1.1-2.314.
Kelley pushes back against the study of Confucianism in Vietnam as a selection from the ‘Confucian repertoire’ of common tactics and techniques. Confucianism has been defined in Western terms rather than directly engaging with the literature, poetry, and governmental bodies of which it produces. Confucianism cannot be thought of as simply Sinification/Sinicization or as a measure of Vietnam as “little China” or autonomously Vietnamese/SEA. Rather, we need to understand philosophy and moral-cultural perspectives of Confucianism as a worldview with categories of people: Efflorescents” (Hoa, cultural more so than ethnic label) and “barbarians” (di) with amorphous borders.
Cooke, Nola. 1994. “Nineteenth-Century Vietnamese Confucianization in Historical Perspective: Evidence from the Palace Examinations (1463-1883).” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 25 (2): 270–312.
Cooke, Nola. 1997. “The Myth of the Restoration: Dang Trong Influences in the Spiritual Life of the Early Nguyen Dynasty.” In The Last Stand of Asian Autonomies, edited by Anthony Reid, 269–95. London: Macmillan.
Nola Cooke refutes the claims that the 19th century was not a continuity of the Le 16th century past nor a zenith of Neo-Confucianism in Vietnam. Rather, the Nguyen emperors were a product of Dang Trong— a decentralized, spiritually eclectic space more similar to Buddhist Ly/Tran than Sinicized Le state.