Minor Mobilities: A Historical Analysis of Little Saigon through Oral History
After the Vietnam War ended in 1975 many Southern Vietnamese were displaced and forced to relocate. Many of those refugees settled into an area located in Orange County, California and for the past fifty years have worked together to establish the community and space that is now recognized as Little Saigon. This thesis is a study of Little Saigon in particular, how Vietnamese immigrants have deterritorialized, or rejected the dominant notion of having to assimilate and adopt American culture to fulfill the American dream. Instead, community members have made purposeful interconnections to reterritorialize to construct a space meaningful to them where they, through their own minor strategies can productively and successfully live their own version of the Vietnamese American dream, thus allowing them to climb the ladder of upward mobility and attaining opportunities to physical mobility. I first trace the ways in which the first and generation physically alter the space in Orange County to a space that is accessible and makes sense to them by analyzing historical and present maps. Next, I examine the ways Vietnamese culture is produced and maintained in the United States for this community by examining the content and distribution of entertainment shows such as Paris By Night. Lastly I trace the impact of Vietnamese contribution to the nail salon industry and how the expansion of manicuring services has allowed for Vietnamese women to successfully become independent entrepreneurs and breadwinners in their family.
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