Dr. Dat M. Nguyen received his Ph.D. in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from Boston University in 2020. His research focuses on religion, ethics, care, and psychology in post-war late-socialist Vietnam. His current book project, tentatively titled Crafting a Buddhist Public: Urban Buddhism and Youth Aspirations in Late-Socialist Vietnam, explores the recent proliferation of Buddhist educational programs for youth in Ho Chi Minh City and its implications for urban public life. The book examines the complex entanglements between Buddhism and market socialism, as well as the role of youth in the transformation of urban Vietnamese Buddhism. He has published part of his findings in “Unburdening the Heart: Urban Therapeutic Buddhism and Youth Well-Being in Ho Chi Minh City” (Journal of Vietnamese Studies, 2020).
At the NIOD, he is contributing to the project Bones of Contention: Technologies of Identification and the Politics of Reconciliation in Vietnam led by Dr. Tam Ngo. His research for the project examines the intersections between religion and the commemoration of fallen and Missing-in-Action (MIA) soldiers in southern Vietnam. It seeks to answer how religious actors and institutions in southern Vietnam shape the discourses and practices of post-war remembrance and reconciliation, particularly among local families and communities. Building on this research, he is developing a second book project that investigates the provision of medical, psychological, and spiritual care for veterans in post-war Vietnam.
Additionally, in collaboration with an international research team, he is developing a comparative research project that explores the impact of warfare on the environment. Together with Dr. Tam Ngo, he is interested in investigating the impact of dioxin/Agent Orange on family and community livelihoods and the recent international efforts to clean up and remediate sites of dioxin contamination across Vietnam.