Saheli Datta

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Schmitz, Hans


Homeland politics, Immigrants, Political activism, Refugee diaspora, Transnationalism, Vietnamese American

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation examines the presence and possibilities of political transnational activism stimulated by Vietnamese Americans in Orange County, California. Transnationalism is an increasingly dominant phenomenon that characterizes the way in which diaspora groups live their lives across borders. In fact, refugee diaspora, like the Vietnamese Americans, signify a unique dimension in the arena of transnational political practices, given their potential for raising awareness about their country's political struggles and affecting change. The central argument of this dissertation is that a stable and significant transnational field of political action connecting Vietnamese Americans with their country of origin does exist. My research demonstrates that certain practices - protests, petitions and participation in internet forums - emerge as the most frequent forms of transnational political activity that Vietnamese Americans engage in. This dissertation adds insights to the transnationalism literature from the perspective of a vehemently anti-communist community that fled from political violence or the threat thereof - thus, all three forms of political action have a strong anti-communist agenda. My dissertation speaks directly to the fact that the dynamics of political transnationalism among Vietnamese Americans are not uniform. Rather, demographic, contextual and socio-economic factors foster or hamper their political mobilization. From the logistic regression analyses, political transnationalism among Vietnamese Americans is found to be significantly associated with age, gender, college degree, arrival in the U.S., English proficiency, employment status and income. Vietnamese Americans who are most likely to engage in protesting and sign petitions are older males who arrived in the U.S. during the early waves of refugee influx and are not very proficient in English. Unemployed Vietnamese Americans with lower incomes are also more likely to attend protests, while obtaining a college degree in both the U.S. and Vietnam is associated with more frequent participation in internet forums related to homeland issues