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Silence and Sacrifice

Family Stories of Care and the Limits of Love in Vietnam

Merav Shohet


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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (4/20/2021)


How do families hold together when turbulent forces tear them apart? Silence and Sacrifice explores what happens to generations of kin who survived anti-imperial and civil wars in Vietnam, only to be confronted with postcolonial transitions to communism and market-friendly late socialism. In recounting vivid family experiences of conflict, love, and loss, Shohet revises canonical theories of sacrifice as blood-filled religious rituals or patriotic acts. Motivated by enduring Vietnamese virtues of asymmetrical reciprocity and tình cảm (love and material care), a myriad of domestic sacrifices—especially by women—precariously knot family members together by silencing suffering and naturalizing gender and other hierarchies. Rethinking ordinary ethics, this intimate ethnography reveals how quotidian acts of sacrifice help family members forge a sense of continuity in the face of massive political and economic upheavals.

University of California Press, 9780520379381, 266pp.

Publication Date: April 20, 2021

About the Author

Merav Shohet is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Boston University.