Shifting the Nationalist Narrative? Representing Cham and Champa in Vietnam’s Museums and Heritage Sites

Rie Nakamura, Claire Sutherland


The Cham are commonly defined as an ethnic group associated with the ancient Southeast Asian kingdoms of Champa. Corresponding to present-day central and southern Vietnam, these kingdoms were progressively conquered by the Vietnamese Dai Viet empire from the 15th to 19th centuries. The article sets out to trace the extent to which a connection between Cham and Champa is actually articulated in Vietnam’s relevant museums and heritage sites. The nationalist narrative in the title refers to that of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which tends to underplay the Dai Viet empire’s progressive ‘southward march’ from its centre in the Red River Delta towards the Mekong Delta. The article concludes that on the whole, juxtaposing representations of Cham ethnicity with Champa artefacts does not amount to a real engagement with the legacy of Champa, though we discuss limited exceptions.


Cham, Champa, Vietnam, Museums, Heritage

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Copyright (c) 2019 Rie Nakamura, Claire Sutherland

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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