My doctoral dissertation, titled “Ambivalent Diasporics: High-Skilled ‘Return’ Migration and Social Change in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam” examines the subjective experiences of high-skilled Vietnamese diasporic ‘returnees’ who lived and worked in their parents’ ancestral homeland, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

I conducted 8 months of ethnographic fieldwork between 2004 and 2010 across several trips to Vietnam on the growing population of highly-skilled Vietnamese Americans, most of whom are children of Vietnamese who fled their homeland in the 1970s or later. These returnees worked in transnational corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and media/arts jobs; visited their extended families to whom their parents may have sent remittances; and most lived in cosmopolitan areas within a rapidly-changing and globalizing Ho Chi Minh City.

My dissertation illuminates how these Viet Kieu (Overseas Vietnamese) renegotiated their class, gendered and racialized/ethnicized identity within shifting mid-tier economic and racialized hierarchies.  Examining the case study of the Viet Kieu illustrates how high skilled return migration both facilitates globalization and how the experiences of ‘returnees’ is, conversely, structured and constrained by local institutions and actors.