The Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN)’s primary mission is to promote voices and stories of the Vietnamese diaspora through nurturing writers, poets and artists, and connecting their work to readers, audience, and diasporic communities all over the globe.
We envision a world in which the diversity, complexities, and nuance of Vietnamese diasporic experience and imagination are understood, integrated and supported across national boundaries. We envision a world where our divides are healed, and individuals and communities are empowered and connected.
Through nurturing Vietnamese diasporic writers, artists and readers, DVAN reshapes how Vietnamese people are perceived and builds an international, diasporic community of artists in conversation with Vietnamese in Vietnam and with other diasporic communities at large.
How We Work
Through dialogues between writers and artists, literary readings and events, writer/artist residencies, collaborative projects and publications, DVAN offers support and spaces in which Vietnamese diasporic writers and artists can make and present their art works on their own terms, without pressure to comply with mainstream or majority narratives about identity, ethnicity, war, memory or representation. DVAN encourages writers and artists to explore the multi-faceted ways of being and becoming Vietnamese in the diaspora, with the understanding that our identities are fluid, ever-changing, multilingual and multi-confluent, and shaped by various axes of power while also possessing power to establish our own new axes of agency and insight.
Our programs focus on three main areas of supportive engagement:
The Writers (process): We nurture writers and artists in the development and creative stages of producing their art work(s), through offering concrete support (residencies, mentorship) and fluid/indirect support (literary resources, networking).
The Stories (cultural productions): We provide communications outlets to promote the stories and art works that writers and artists create; we promote these works via our blog, diaCRITICS, and through inviting writers/artists to participate in events and readings. We also edit/curate our own anthologies and publications that further establish a context for our diasporic literature(s); as texts, these publications are accessible to readers everywhere and as educational resources for future generations.
Connection with Community: Through the combination of our public events, publications, our website and web presence, organic and targeted networking, we work to connect stories and writers to an international Vietnamese diasporic community, to Vietnamese in Vietnam, to student populations; we extend our endeavor of connectivity also to other diasporic and non-Vietnamese communities.
Why is DVAN needed?
DVAN began in 2007 due to the recognition that Vietnamese Americans, compared to other Asian Americans, were underrepresented in both academia and popular culture. At the time we originated, less than 50 books and short story collections by and about Vietnamese Americans had been published by nationally recognized publishers. Today that number is higher, but there is still a need for a much broader, more diverse range of stories by and about Vietnamese diasporic writers and artists to be circulating. Vietnamese diasporic filmmakers and visual artists are similarly underrepresented. Such selective publishing, film and art world practices prevent the society at large from understanding the complex experiences, history and culture of a growing community, as well from recognizing the impact our diasporic communities and we as individuals have in society. Our belief is that in coming together as a group across national boundaries, we have the potential to bring forth new ideas about identity and citizenship. Ultimately, we aim to be active agents of social change by encouraging self-determination and dialogues for the purpose of healing and full incorporation in the fabric of society.
Our co-founder, Viet Thanh Nguyen, has spoken about the need for narrative plenitude to combat the limits and poverties of narrative scarcity that have been the cultural norm for minority groups. In short, we need more stories—and more types, styles, voices, genres of storytelling—in order to accurately reflect the plurality of our collectivity, and make evident the diversities and complexities within our communities.
The work that DVAN does supports the growth and cultivation of narrative plenitude for Vietnamese diasporic writers and stories.
INK AND BLOOD
Our initial core members used to be a part of a San Francisco-based organization called Ink and Blood (“Muc va Mau”), which was active from 1994 to 2000. The mission of that organization was to promote the works of Vietnamese American writers, poets and visual artists. DVAN is strongly inspired by Ink and Blood's mission and spirit.
Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN) is part of the incubator program at Intersection for the Arts, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.