Johnathan Tran

PhD, History, French
Headshot of Johnathan Tran


I am a Ph.D. student in the UW Department of History studying intermediate (second-year) French as an AY 24-25 Canadian Studies FLAS fellow. My long-term research goals are to transnationally and comparatively study cultural politics, language, and power productions. My current research project takes Vietnam as a primary case study, particularly from 1945 until 1975. By utilizing extensive archival research, development theory, and modernity frameworks, I aim to examine the post-colonial construction of a contemporary Vietnamese national identity as envisioned and instituted by communist-led (and nationalist-inspired) revolutionaries.

My research for the academic year relays these themes to Canadian Studies in two ways. First, French language training makes it possible to explore French archival sources at multiple sites of the Francophone world, specifically French colonial Vietnam, France, and Canada. Second, I intend to address war displacement, community building, and language in Canada by examining the Francophone Vietnamese Canadian population. How do the intersections of language, identity, and politics manifest for Francophone Vietnamese Canadians? These French-speaking Vietnamese Canadians traverse a trilingual landscape in which French, a decommissioned colonial language by the time the Vietnamese people began relocating to Canada, is recommissioned into a “second-mother tongue,” and is then scaffolded onto both English, the second official language in Canada, and their “first-mother tongue,” Vietnamese. I aim to deconstruct the cultural politics inherent in Canadian multilingualism, migration, and identity formation.