The Newsletter 68 Summer 2014

Culture and politics of the newly announced Vietnamese Independent Writers’ Association

Jason Morris-Jung

IN VIETNAM’S HIGH POLITICS of Politburo and Party Congresses, the recent ‘Declaration to Establish a Vietnamese Independent Writers’ Association’ by 62 prominent Vietnamese writers from inside and outside the country might appear as a trivial event.1 Indeed, one is immediately confronted with the question of why such an Association would even be necessary when the official Vietnam Writers’ Association (Hội Nhà Văn Việt Nam) has already been operating for more than a half century. Yet in the context of growing oppositional voices within the single party-state, the Declaration is another important event. It is a direct challenge to state censorship and control over the arts and literature, while also calling on all Vietnamese writers to take up the struggle of revitalizing the nation’s political consciousness and envisioning new alternatives.