The Newsletter 66 Winter 2013

The uprooted: one boy's story

Christina Firpo

At the French colonial archives in Aix-en-Provence, a newly declassified file provides biographical information on Henri ROBERT, born in Vietnam in the late 1930s of a Vietnamese woman and a French man. Included among the medical exam records, annual teacher evaluations, and smiling school pictures of young Henri is a document telling the story of how he came to be a ward of the French colonial state. This document, dated 1945 and signed by a Madame Aumont, states that Henri’s mother was “completely uninterested in her children” and hence handed them over to colonial authorities. Yet files tucked away in the Vietnamese National Archives in Hanoi reveal that Madame Aumont forcibly removed Henri from his mother and willfully lied about Henri’s history.


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